Today we’d like to introduce you to Summer Strong.
Summer, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
From as young as I can remember I’ve always loved the arts. I danced for most of my life, I played many instruments, I’ve always loved drawing…. anything and everything you can think of.
I grew up with my life and memories being documented from as long as I can remember. When I was little, my family and I would regularly go into those little shops and take the cheesy, cliche photos with those wooden stools and tacky backgrounds… I was blessed to have traveled somewhere every year with my family growing up and all of those trips were captured on little digital and disposable cameras that eventually filled up the many photo albums I would look back on for years to come.
I used to have a cheap plastic Kodak camera that I would take with me to middle school and take random photos of me and my friends during school at lunchtime or before P.E. in the locker room. And that was really the start of everything for me.
From that moment on, I was always taking photos of myself and my friends and random things that I found appealing… From the moment I was able to create, I did.
I think it’s the physical aspect it of it that attracts me. Seeing beautiful things fuels me and inspires me, and knowing that I’m the one that’s creating those things makes even more fulfilling. I still have so much to learn and so far to go…. but my photography has really progressed and developed into something so beyond anything I would’ve ever imagined, and it’s amazing to see myself evolve creatively every day.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It’s definitely been a rough journey for me in many many ways.
I’m such a perfectionist (probably the virgo in me) and I have a lot of internal struggles with feeling like my work isn’t good enough, creative enough… you name it. I’ve wanted to give away all my equipment and quit many times.
I think social media has contributed a lot to my perception of my own work as I’ve gotten older. It’s bittersweet. I love that I’m able to get inspired by so many incredible artists and people, but at the same time, I find that I am constantly comparing myself.. whether it’s in a negative way or positive way. I often have to remind myself that my work is and will never be like anyone else’s and that’s the beauty of it. My work and my eye are unique to me, and as long as I’m making things that I’m proud of, my work will always have meaning and purpose.
Besides that though, there’s also just the common struggles that come with being an artist. I don’t consider photography my job in any sense at this point (although I’m definitely working towards to get to that point..) but it does require a lot of time, resources, and money with the kind of art I like to make. I shoot mostly on film, which is a costly process in itself and it entails more than you would think. Documentary and casual day-to-day photography is my favorite style, but I also love shooting portraits and landscapes which demands a level of creativity, nuance, and resources that doesn’t just happen overnight.
Some big struggles for me right now as a smaller artist especially are finding people to shoot portraits of, finding cool locations to shoot at (that don’t require lights, studio setting, and backdrops), and building a good portfolio.
But it’s all relative. I embrace having little to work with because it challenges me and forces me to work with what I have, and when I do attain all of those things it makes it that much more rewarding.
It’s a process and I cherish every part.
Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
My passion is photography. Right now I’m working on growing as an artist and eventually (possibly) developing this into my career. I shoot mostly on 35mm film but I can also shoot digital photography and am working on learning other formats. I’m pretty diverse when it comes to subject matter, which is why I chose the moniker “LifeOnFilmm”. It’s sort of all-encompassing. I love shooting portraits, but I also love shooting landscapes. I really just like to document life. I love to capture the world as I see it, things I experience, places I go to, things I do, and whatever captures my eye. I don’t like to box myself into a certain sector, which I think is my distinguishing factor. I don’t want to just be known for taking beautiful portraits or landscapes or whatever else, I want to be the person who does it all.
For a while now I’ve been working on my first zine called “Home Bound”, which is a big accomplishment for myself. I’ve always loved photography books and magazines, I own a ton… so being able to create one myself is so surreal and rewarding. “Home Bound” is still in the works, but it’s basically an ode to my hometown and my childhood growing up in LA. I’m excited to witness all of my months of conceptualizing the many ideas I’ve had finally come into fruition.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
My proudest moment so far has been stepping out of my comfort zone and reaching out to work with people. It may seem very minute to others, but I can be extremely shy and hesitant to meet new people.. so being able to push past that and not wait for people to come to me has been very rewarding for me.
Also, just the connections that I’ve made or rekindled with people that I’ve shot is amazing as well. I’ve grown, developed, and learned so much from everyone that photography has exposed me to. It’s a great feeling.