Michael Raines — Colorful life on film

Michael Raines, an American photographer and filmmaker, likes to shoot a variety of situations on film. 

Michael Raines main subjects are mostly kids and old people, but also urban views and typical shops and cafeterias.
His pictures give retro and vintage vibes but are set in the everyday life: the ordinary is transformed into the extraordinary.
This is what he has to say.

How did you first start taking photos and where did you learn?

I’ve been taking photos in one way or another most of my life.
Obviously, earlier on it was just silly photos of friends and skate tricks and parties and things like that, but it wasn’t until 4-5 years ago that I started to do it in a more serious, full-time way, really trying to build an (almost) daily artistic practice.
I’m self-taught so most of my learning has just been by going out and putting in the time, messing up and trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

What do you look for in your subjects and why?

It’s funny because I don’t feel like I go out and actively look for anything in particular, but after seeing the consistency in my photos and spending time trying to edit images down for a book, I definitely have an interest in the beginning and ending phases of life.
I seem to be drawn to kids and elders. I think some of this has a lot to do with the fact that in those two stages of life, you tend to wear somewhat timeless, colorful clothing. 
People in their middle stages more often than not look very much of the time, which for me, isn’t terribly interesting.
I think this has a lot to do with the fact that I’m almost always shooting on film and my better photos are ones where you can’t quite place the time period.
I’m not going for nostalgia, but trying to pluck out little examples of the past and re-tool it in a certain way, if that makes any sense?

Are there different kinds of photographs you would like to experiment with? Or new art fields you care to explore?

Currently, I’m pretty happy working the way I have been, which is to say walking outside and wandering around between 10-2pm (when my Daughter is in school) any day I can. 
I’m also new to all this so it’s important for me to ride high on the pure joy and excitement of taking photos, otherwise I might overthink and mess everything up.
That said, I’ll be attending an art residency over the summer in Samoa, California and plan on trying to work a bit more in portraiture for that project.
My background prior to photography was in filmmaking, and since 2017 I’ve kind of put that on hold for a photography practice, but this year I’ve been baby stepping back into it more and plan on doing a short film later down the line in 2020.

In relation to the previous question, any upcoming projects you would like to share with us?

I’m currently working towards a book edited down from the past 4 years of taking “street” photos called Watermelon Days. It’s comprised of recurring motifs: parking lots, people in cars, drug stores, sidewalks and playgrounds; the photographs are sequenced together as if it’s one long, never ending hot summer day.
I’m also working on a small book called Nights of Destruction that focuses on the culture around demolition derbies. I plan on working through this until the Presidential election, using the racetracks as a mean to explore our current political climate and United State’s fascination with violence as spectacle.
Also, at the above mentioned residency I will be focusing on a more idiosyncratic take on the portrait, working in a small town that was previously a lumber town in Samoa, California.
It will be an experiment in place-based and community oriented portraiture that aims to photograph not only the individuals, but the collective imagination and history of a place.



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