film photography · Interview

A Snapshot of the Film Community – Talking to Talya Adams

Today I am bringing to you a chat with Talya Adams a fellow film photographer on YouTube. After watching her videos, I instantly loved her sense of humor and honesty. I wanted to feature her here so that we could all get to know her a little better.

Hey Talya, thanks so much for joining me for this chat.

TA: Hi! Aly thanks for having me.

Photo by Talya Adams
Photo by Talya Adams

First off I always like to ask if you can tell my readers a little bit about yourself outside of the photography world.

TA: Let’s see. East coast native now residing on the west coast. Lover of travel, basketball, and tea. Is that enough, I never know what all to say to questions like that. 😅

Well, what do you do for a living outside of photography? I remember from your video you said you are a writer.

TA: Yes, I am a writer. In 2020 I started writing articles on the Medium platform. Before that, I wrote online content for a motorcycle company here on the west coast. I’m also working part-time as a video editor at the moment. 

As far as personal work goes, I’ve been working on my debut novel and collaborating with others on various film related projects.

That’s awesome.

Photo by Talya Adams
Photo by Talya Adams

How did you get started shooting film?

TA: In 2016, I found an $8 Rollei 35 F at a thrift store. Up until then I’d been borrowing my friend’s Canon Rebel T5i, but I wanted a camera of my own. I could swing the $8. Unfortunately, a co-worker broke it a few days later while checking it out. I took it to a camera repair store and they told me it was done because the part that broke was a small piece of plastic inside and wouldn’t be worth fixing. From there I scoured thrift stores for a year buying as many cameras as I could on a $40 budget every two weeks around pay day.

Nice! I like your drive.

TA: Lol. Drive and a love for finding a good deal. I became obsessive for a little while there. But I gifted a lot of cameras too. Gotta keep film alive.

Yes I am definitely well acquainted with that addiction lol.

Photo by Talya Adams
Photo by Talya Adams

I see from your work on Instagram that you take a lot of street photos. What draws you to that type of photography?

TA: Accessibility. When I was first learning photography I wanted to shoot portraits. As a newbie people don’t always respect your time. Heck, even when you have experience people don’t always respect your time. LA people can be flaky that way. So, after being cancelled on one too many times I started taking my camera on the streets. Prior to 2020 there was always something happening in the city. I live close to mid-city LA, so I’m pretty much a train ride away from some action packed neighborhoods. During 2020, when shooting people became impossible because of lockdown, I found myself depending on my daily walks around my neighborhood to clear my head, stretch my legs, and breathe in some almost fresh air. I find the streets relaxing. If I get stuck while writing or working on a project, I grab my camera and walk my neighborhood. Even on days where I only take 1 shot I still return home feeling good.

That goes along with what I say a lot on my website, that film photography is really good therapy.

TA: Definitely. It helped me significantly last year. So much. I’m a type A personality who had plans at the start of last year. Being essentially benched for the year sent me on a roller coaster emotionally. Being able to do small road trips when the restrictions lifted here and make photos was invaluable. Photography definitely got me through tough times.

I’m the same way. It really is a tremendous help.

Photo by Talya Adams
Photo by Talya Adams

Knowing now that you have a background in video editing, is that what made you start a YouTube channel?

TA: Not at all. I developed my editing background because of YouTube.

Oh wow!

TA: Sure, I went to film school. But my focus was in screenwriting. They made us take a post production course. So, I knew how to use Final Cut, but I was incredibly slow and hated it. On my previous projects it’d be a friend or engage in a quid pro quo for my web show edits. But I wasn’t going to use up all my favors for my YouTube channel. So, I downloaded premiere pro and got to work. Always the student I find.

Yes starting a channel definitely requires a passion to learn and the drive to learn on your own.

Photo by Talya Adams
Photo by Talya Adams

What advice would you give anyone who may be thinking of starting a film related YouTube channel?

TA: I’d tell them to ask themselves what they have to add to the conversation. I see a lot of film channels all around now, and I get it. We all had a lot of time on our hands last year. But you don’t want to get lost in the crowd. So, I think answering that question will help a lot in terms of focusing your channel. Then I say to be patient. If you aren’t friends with someone with a big following and you don’t own a fancy camera, your growth could take time. For most people YouTube growth is a long game. Lastly, I’d say you have to have a passion for making for not only your audience but for yourself. If you don’t like planning shoots, scouting locations, recording, and editing videos then you’ll be up a creek sans paddle.

Great advice. I second all of that. I try to make it a point to tell myself, has this subject already been beaten like a dead horse? lol Low confidence is a huge factor for me but I have to keep saying that my perspective is unique and like you said, everyone’s channel isn’t going to skyrocket at first.

Photo by Talya Adams
Photo by Talya Adams

I know you touched on this earlier, but has the Covid-19 lockdowns affected your creativity in any way?

TA: First let me touch on the confidence issue you mentioned earlier. I too struggled with this early on. I didn’t like being on camera and I didn’t think my stories needed to be told because I didn’t have 4K video or drone footage. My personality isn’t super hyper all the time either. And I wasn’t traveling to exotic places weekly. These were the thoughts in my head. Then, as I looked around I noticed there was no one else on the platform with my experiences in the community. There’s value in being authentically yourself and sharing your interests and experiences with others. Especially in the film community on YouTube when most channels are run by the same type of guy. Your confidence will increase over time. As you get better and more comfortable with where your voice is.

Very true. I love that. Thank you.

TA: As far as COVID goes, it has been a challenging time creatively. California has been in various states of lockdown since last March. Being confined to my apartment has been tough. I used to go to my neighborhood cafe for a few hours to write. Walk a bit afterwards and take photos, then head to work.  I played with my routine a lot over the past several months. I’ve always found it hard to work in my apartment since college. I strive on structure so figuring out what worked best for my new norm was vital. As it is now, I wake up at 6am. Write for an hour to an hour and a half. Then meditate, workout if my knees are feeling kind. Then, I get back to work for 6-8hrs on pressing projects that day. But finding creative flow is still difficult. I have to work really hard to get there. I think it’s Stephen King who says in his memoir, something to the effect of writing isn’t about a muse it’s about discipline. Showing up every day and getting your work done. So, I try to show up and give myself a chance to be successful every day. Because eventually one page a day will turn into 100 pages total.

Girl I don’t know how you do that. Yes I loved his memoir. It really is about habits and routine.

Photo by Talya Adams
Photo by Talya Adams

You took a one year social media detox break for 2020. That would make most of us go through major withdrawal. Tell us about that. What was it like and how did it affect your creativity?

TA: Haha. Yeah. A lot of people thought I’d lost my mind or was just being difficult. However, the break was needed. Creatively at that time I was on my 4th draft of my novel, I was feeling stagnant in my photography and I needed to change things up. My routine at that time was trash. I legit spent a lot of time binge watching TV shows. Scrolling aimlessly through Instagram. Wasting time playing video games. I was putting in time everywhere except my craft. Because of this I had so many other people’s creative voices in my head. It was drowning out my own. I figured 2020 would also be a great year to do the year detox because it was an election year. I definitely didn’t want to hear any of that noise on TV or social media. I’m fully capable of doing my own research and making the best decisions for myself on that front. So, yeah. I shut it all down in 2020. It was amazing!

That’s really great. If more people did that in our country maybe the election year wouldn’t have been so insane lol.

TA: I didn’t miss social media at all. Honestly, I don’t think I was very good at social media to begin with. It’s all fake anyway. Partial truths pretending to be facts. I think living in LA and being friends with industry people I see the behind the scenes. I know when I’m being spun a facade. So, I typically tend to shy away from the platforms. I did miss a lot of good memes though in 2020. 😂What I missed most was TV. I don’t think I watch it like the average viewer since it was my focus of study, but I missed dissecting what I was seeing and losing myself in the story for an hour. Creatively it definitely opened me up. I read a lot of books. A LOT of books. And I studied writers and photographers I have a lot of respect for. I was interested in how they spent their time and what their routines looked like. I found it easier to hear my own voice when I wrote and train my eye when I was behind the lens. I got exactly what I wanted and more than I knew to ask.

That’s really great. I think I may have to give that a try.

Photo by Talya Adams
Photo by Talya Adams

Well Talya, thank you for doing this with me. It has been really nice getting to know you a little bit. Is there anything you’re working on that people should keep an eye out for?

TA: I’ll be putting articles out regularly on Medium this year so please check out my page. My website will be up and running by next month so be sure to check that out as well as I’ll be selling film cameras and other merchandise there in the near future. And I will be uploading new videos to my YouTube channel starting in February. Thanks for having me this has been a lot of fun!

Awesome. I look forward to it all.

Be sure to go check out Talya’s work on Instagram, her YouTube channel and her work on Medium.

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Until next time, stay motivated and keep shooting.

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