Photography continues to be on a path of change. There are innovations around the corner that promise to change the way photographs are made and the way they are displayed to the world. This will undoubtedly add to the mix of the amount of good photography already being produced. And because it is so easy to consume photography via sites like Instagram or 500px, the world of photography might even be considered overwhelming, especially for anyone looking to dive deeper.

Austin Peeler grew up in South Carolina, during a time when the internet was just an infant. A time when the world of photography was smaller and located in your immediate world. A world for Austin that he explored by any available means: car, skateboard, even boat. Along the way he took a picture here and there, helping him document the world as he discovered it.

It wasn't till he moved to New York City years later that he started to frequently take out his camera, "being in a city that size with such a rapid pace I found myself constantly taking photos and roaming the streets. Living in NYC made me realize that I love taking pictures and that I always needed to have a camera on me at all times." But a photographer doesn't just develop on his own. He needs the chemical reactions of a community around him. Austin found that in close photo-friends that helped to further introduce him to New York. And for it, advance his own understanding of himself as a photographer.

But like developing any talent, there is no straight line of progress. Sometimes you need restraints and a change of pace to force a different perspective and spark creativity. So Austin moved to New Zealand.

"Film there is crazy expensive and processing labs are even more so, I found myself shooting less and taking my time with photographs. It made me think differently about the way I was taking photos and that quality is more important than quantity". Moving back to NYC a year later provided a chance to test out that self-control, while he was re-introduced to the craze of the big city life.

With a return to New York you might think that Austin would have to struggle to re-establish himself. But there is a strong community around film photography; it binds people together with print exchange programs and communal zines. Austin got right back into New York. And he got right back into shooting and cementing relationships into close friendships.

That community for Austin has only expanded as he has continued to contribute to photo shows and meet people through other film photographers. Plus for Austin he not only likes the feel, but he enjoys the sound and smell of film. "Film is more adventurous, finicky, and timeless and that's why I'm drawn to it." It is these qualities that make Austin so passionate about film, and make everyone who is involved in the community as equally passionate.

"People should know about film photography and how important it was and still is. Kids should know what a negative is. Photography can be utilized in so many different ways and that there are layers to it that can tell stories and be expressive in many ways."

And that is a perfect place to start. Not just for an introduction to photography beyond a phone, but to dive deeper. To be a part of a tight-nit community that surrounds film photography. So you'll never be lost as you start to discover the world of photography beyond.


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Reid Harris