We’ve been obsessing over Michael Mytnick’s photos from his Euro-trash adventure of a lifetime: the guy just has an eye for angles, architecture and capturing stunning candid portraits. When he said we could just pick and choose from his photos to compile a post, it was hard to even know where to start pulling from the hundreds and hundreds (seriously, maybe thousands) of snaps.
Something about seeing Europe through redscale film induced a underlying dark sense to the older world he was exploring. In an attempt to get a bit of the artist’s perspective, Mytnick was nice enough to answer a few questions for the RASCAL team, as interviewed by Allison Maloney.
So you went to Europe and made stops galore- where exactly did you go and how did you travel?
Well I had a flat in London so the majority of my time was living there. I went on day trips though to places on the western side of England near Wales like Stonehenge, Avebury, and Bath (where ancient Roman Baths are, it smelt like sulfer though). I took trains off to the east coast to Dover to see the white cliffs and also took a train to France to make a day in Paris via Eurostar (which is a magical train that goes under the English Channel). Public transit technology over there blew my mind. OH, and I took a train from Kings Cross to Edinburgh for a 4-day weekend. So I went everywhere by some sort of train except for the initial journey from the US to the UK, which was completed by hot-air balloon.
How many cameras did you bring on the trip? What’s your favorite to shoot with and why?
I brought a DSLR- Canon 7D, a film SLR: Canon AE-1, and my iPhone, which of course I used to Instagram the shit out of everything and use as my ‘point-and-shoot’ for when I went out dancing and couldn’t bring an actual camera with me. Hmm, favorite is hard to pick. It’s really between the film and digital cameras. I guess I’d have to say that I’m more partial to digital because I can get exactly what I want and I can manipulate things for however long I need. I’ve been home for two weeks now and am still playing around with all my RAWs. The film camera ended up losing its internal battery power right before I got to Edinburgh, which was unfortunate because I had very fast, 1600 iso film locked in it, if I ever get that fixed I can get those frames out.
Out of all of the snaps, I was totally enamored with the redscale film. What kind of camera did you use? Why redscale?
Oh! I used the AE-1 SLR for that. The film is called ‘Rollei Redbird Redscale 400 35mm’. I received the roll from my best friend for my birthday and held onto it before Europe. I had an interesting array of film to take: the red, the high iso, and just an expired 800 roll. Overall, I was able to use the red and 800 and they luckily turned out. I’ve had the red film before and when developed it was just red blocks. So I was risking a lot going into it because I wasn’t sure it’d come out, but to my favour it did. The red makes it more interesting. I have thousands of crystal clear digital images from the trip on my computer, but I have a badass photo-album full of grainy, semi-blurred, monotone red images in a photo album aside my bed. The red is much more interesting to look at and figure out than normal film types. Harder to work with and get right, but I’m happy how these came out.
Where was the best stop on the trip?
If we’re including London, then London. I was able to know it inside and out. I met tons of interesting people and was able to meet a new person inside myself (jesus, I’m so gay) [Editor’s Note: this is not a derogatory statement. He is so very gay.]. I was really impressed with Edinburgh, Scotland for different reasons. Edinburgh was almost a 180 from London. London was a huge city with people rushing past you on their own missions for the day, and yes, it did rain almost every day, but only for a little, Edinburgh was downpour. Exiting the train in Edinburgh, it was pouring, foggy, eerie, and breezy. You could smell the sea and hear the sound of traffic and bagpipes. The architecture was incredible and every street corner and shop dated back to the 1500/1600s. The place was scary, and I loved it. It hosts one of the oldest/most haunted graveyards in the world, Grey Friars Cemetery, that hosts the bodies of murdered protestants during the English reform, mass graves from the Bubonic plague, and just rich motherfuckers who have enough net worth to be put in this piece of land. The engravings on tombs and walls where horribly morbid and from another time, but they strike me as beautiful. A lot of people think it’s weird at how much I love cemeteries but I just love seeing how cultures handle death, especially during the Plague, because it changed the way artists and the people of that time’s view of mortality.”
One time when my sister and I were on a family vacation to Italy and Chinese tourists asked us to not only take their picture but also take numerous pictures with them because they thought we were Italian. How many people asked you to stop and take their picture?
HAHAHAH! Well, I don’t ever recall getting many pictures with any Chinese tourists. I did, however, direct several French people to the nearest McDonalds, which was hilarious. I always found it really flattering when anybody from any nationality asked me for directions, because it meant I looked like I was a natural Londoner. For whatever weird reason, the French just love McDonalds. I had at least 4 different groups of them ask me where to go, it was just one of those things where I would just say, “really? Again?” to myself. I did have this Nigerian guy and a few of his British friends come up to me and ask, ‘parli italiano?’ because they thought I was Italian, by heritage, yes, but after telling them I was American, they kept touching my hair and calling me Hugh Jackman because of my sideburns. It was probably one of the funnier moments I had personally experienced on the trip. OH, but actually the funniest was when a random baby walked up to me at a restaraunt, touched my hand, looked me in the eyes and said something in baby talk. We shared a moment. The best part was, I hate babies, and was pretty open about that on the trip. This baby, showed up the day I left and changed my life. I don’t hate babies as much.
What’s the funniest thing you’ve found in the background of the photos you took?
I guess just photobombers in general tend to happen the most. I was filming stuff on the tube and didn’t notice until I was at home, but a man was reading the paper and picking his nose, I mean, he was DIGGING. There was a strange phenomenon with photos I was in though..Everytime (and I mean about 90% or so) I was in a photo with my friends Mary and Hannah when we went clubbing, we had a different Italian guy in the background. They were either looking at the camera, posing, or basically standing right next to us smiling, but we literally had no idea it was happening until we saw the photos the next day. The best part was that it kept happening, night after night.
Do you prefer pictures of people or the scenery? I’m so drawn to your portrait shots, but you captured the architecture with an expert eye.
Aww thank you! I appreciate it! I guess I’m generally more interested in people because I like working more with humans and/or capturing the candid moments that slip by every second of every day. European architecture is so different from American architecture in terms of style and age that I thought it was really easy to get right up to something and make it a subject from that specific point in space. The balance of people to scenery is also something I try to keep in check while shooting.