In The Frame: John Helmuth
My name is John Helmuth. I'm currently living in Philadelphia, but grew up right over the bridge in South Jersey. I graduated from the University of the Arts in 2011 with a BA in Graphic Design. I've been a film photographer since 2000-2001 when I got my first film camera, a Canon AE-1p. I stopped shooting film for a long time to get more digital work, but ended up selling all of my digital gear to invest in some Leica gear about 2 years ago. Most of my freelance work is shooting classic cars and classic car shows / events, but since I live in Philadelphia I always find myself shooting around the city focusing on whatever catches my eye. People, architecture, signage, all different things. I also usually travel with a batch of film whenever I'm on vacation.
I ended up getting back into film photography a few years ago after taking a long break because I found my digital work more or less getting lost in the sea of digital photography online. I was able to get a better a response from my film work while continuing to photograph the same things I shot with digital. On top of getting more recognition for my film work, I love geeking out and getting into the more technical side of film. Absolutely love finding my favorite black and white films, using certain color films for certain times of day, pushing film to gain more light and texture and making the subjects of my images feel like they're from another space and time by just using certain types of film. Not to mention making new friends and being included in the film photography community.
My Domke F-5XB is filled with a Leica M6TTL .85 with matching leicavit, Voigtlander 35mm f1.4, Summarit 50mm f2.4, Tele-Elmarit 90mm f2.8, all BW XS-Pro filters, and a Yashica T2 point-and-shoot.
The first image is a photo of a 1949 Mercury that was shot in the Philadelphia Navy Yard in front of a retired aircraft carrier. This was photographed for the Jalopy Journal. I wanted to photograph this car surrounded by interesting elements of the city the car was original from. I shot this image on Portra 400 around dusk. It was shot with a Leica M5 with an early 60s Summicron 90mm f2 lens.
The second image is a photo of my cousin on a smoke break outside of our beach house. Her positioning in front of the window, the back-lite glow, the framing of the plants around the window, and the timing of having my film camera loaded with black and white TMax 400 were all by chance. This caught my eye immediately. One of my all-time favorite BW shots. Shot with a Sears 35RF.
The third image is a night photo of a motel called the Beach Comber located at the beach town of Wildwood, New Jersey. This town is packed with retro motels stuck in time. Many of their original neon signs still glow in the night. This specific motel was the main headquarters of the car club The Oilers during The Race of Gentlemen, which is a motorcycle and automobile racing event on the Wildwood beach showcasing all pre-WW2 motorcycles and cars. This was shot on a Leica Minilux with Portra 800.