With his evident interest for conveying mysteries and fascination for colors and textures, Shane Terry delights in taking vibrant snapshots of everyday life and being immersed in his love of the analogue process.
After flipping through the photos above from his series entitled “Southbound Freight“, proceed to our chat with the Toronto-based photographer in this in-depth Hero of the Week interview to learn about the motivations and inspirations behind it.
Please tell us a little about yourself; where you are from and what do you do?
I’ve lived in Toronto for the last eight years, though I’m originally from Smiths Falls, a small town 350 kilometers northeast of here. I have an English degree from the University of Toronto. I mostly shoot 35mm color film.
How would you personally describe your style of photography? What message/s do you want to convey through your images?
Style is not consciously considered. That said, some of my stuff probably qualifies as documentary. Some people call them snapshots. With Southbound Freight, I hope there’s an intimate sense of place that comes across. Ultimately, I’m more interested in conveying mystery than hard facts.
Which elements of shooting film are you drawn to the most?
I like the look of film, whether it’s 35mm, 120 or Instax. I like the colors and textures. I’m also drawn to the rituals of the process, from trusting that initial moment to scanning the prints and negatives.
What would you say is your greatest inspiration?
I’ve been photographing my hometown for the last five years. That place and those landscapes have been the main inspiration. It’s a working class town that’s been hit hard over the last decade or two with the loss of factories and manufacturing jobs. The place is in rough shape and a lot’s changing. I feel compelled to photograph as much of it as I can. Southbound Freight came out of that.
Name someone whose art makes you shiver.
If you had to choose a camera + film to shoot with for the rest of your life, which combo would it be and why?
Lately I’ve enjoyed shooting instant film with the Instax 300. It’s democratic and imperfect and fairly precious. I’d probably answer differently in a few months.
If you could time travel to the past and be the assistant of a great photographer, who would it be and why?
He’s not a photographer, but Jean Renoir. He started making silent films in France the 1920s before moving on to sound and finally to colour. He was a true pioneer, embracing major technological shifts and exploring many different genres. He consistently made masterful, personal films for decades.
Can you share the weirdest situation you’ve faced as a film photographer?
People sometimes approach me on the street and ask me to take their picture. I usually do, but they’re often disappointed after realizing they can’t immediately see it.
If you had to choose a movie that defines you, both personally and aesthetically, which one would it be?
Maybe Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas. I love that movie. Wenders and cinematographer Robby Müller captured the everyday visual landscape of roadside America with tons of heart. It’s very romantic.
Do you remember the photo you took that made you feel proud for the first time? Can you share it with us?
It was probably one of many Polaroids, shot with my dad’s 600 when I was younger. I have no clue where they are.
In your photography you pay attention to details like letters and road signs. Could you explain how it started?
I just like signs. I collect old ones that I’ve found in odd places. Signs are ubiquitous and I’ve embraced them.
At Whattaroll, we believe that inspiration can come from many different sides. Can you write down and share with us a paragraph from the book you’re reading at the moment?
“He remembered everything. A map of the journey was burnt into his mind. And as he talked a different landscape—cars, billboards, industrial buildings, roads and locked gates and high wire fences, railway tracks, steep cindery embankments, tin sheds, ditches with a little brown water in them, also tin cans, mashed cardboard cartons, all kinds of clogged or barely floating waste—all this seemed to grow up around us created by his monotonous, meticulously remembering voice, and we could see it, we could see how it was to be lost there, how it was just not possible to find anything, or go on looking.” — Alice Munro, The Flats Road
Describe your shooting routine.
I tend to shoot on weekends, always by myself. Usually I’ll head somewhere based on the light and just explore for a few hours. I like to keep things spontaneous and I work very quickly.
You shoot using only color film and color Instax. Can you describe the role colors play in your photography?
I’m definitely drawn to color. I know how certain colors will look in certain light. It’s more of a compulsion than anything else. I shoot what I’m attracted to.
Who do you think we should feature in the next Hero of the Week section?
My buddy Scott Hurst (@negativeone2) down in Hollywood. He’s a truly great photographer. He’s out in the streets with his Leica every week. This reminds me that I owe him a print!