Packing all his essentials in a van, Michael Roy Harris is currently on a road trip around South Africa with his beloved girlfriend before heading to Sri Lanka to exhaust his hard-earned travel fund. To continue exploring the world, he wholeheartedly does all sorts of jobs – from delivering pizza to cleaning barnacles off expensive yachts. In this interview, he shares why the Minolta SRT 201 is the perfect match for his adventurous soul and carefree lifestyle.
Name: Michael Roy Harris
Location: Greytown, South Africa
Weapon of Choice: Minolta SRT 201
Tell us more about yourself and what you do.
I am a 25-year-old, ocean-obsessed traveler, writer, and ﬁlm ﬁend. I have always been interested in photography, but I grew bored and unsatisﬁed with the repetition of trying to nail the perfect shot with digital photography. One Christmas, many moons ago, my sister bought Diana F+ for me and I ﬁnally found the missing link in the growth of my photography addiction. Since then I have acquired a few more analog cameras during my travels.
People ask me what I do and I know that they mean what am I going to do for the rest of my life in order to make money. I have difﬁculty answering this question because I have decided not to let the acquisition of money determine my path in this world. I will rather let adventure, love, and the unpredictability of life experiences set my course.
I am currently living in a van and driving around my beautiful home country, South Africa, with my American girlfriend. After, I’ll head off to Sri Lanka to ﬁnish my current travel fund. Now, about the travel fund. No job is below me and I have found myself doing things from delivering pizzas to chipping barnacles off the hulls of multi-million dollar super yachts with a screw driver – anything to fund my next adventure and keep my camera loaded with ﬁlm of course.
Why is this camera your Weapon of Choice?
I fell in love with the Minolta SRT 201 the moment I laid eyes on it. I bought it from Dave, a Star Wars fanatic and hippy, who is the owner of a thrift store in St. Augustine, Florida.
It is my Weapon of Choice because after over six months of using it I have not had one incorrectly exposed shot despite its fully manual controls. The hoop and needle exposure indicator in the bright viewﬁnder is a breeze to use and result in correctly exposed shot each time. It came with standard Minolta MD Rokkor 50mm 1.7 lens. This is a great lens as it is quite fast, so low light shots turn out beautifully. The subject is illuminated in a soft light and the bokeh is fantastic.
This camera is easy to use despite its fully manual controls and it is so much fun as well.The shutter is comically loud but I ﬁnd it so satisfying, knowing that I have immortalized that exact moment in my little light box.
Any memorable experiences you’ve had while using this Weapon of Choice?
This is the camera that comes with me wherever I go. When I look at the photos I’ve taken with it, I remember how I felt in that moment and the general vibe of the day and place. This is one reason why I adore ﬁlm photography because to me it is a connection to a moment and a place in time as opposed to a pixelated image on a screen. It is a more tangible way of cataloging my memories. Thus, anytime that I’ve spent exploring a new place with my favorite person and documenting it with my Minolta is a particularly memorable experience for me. You can read a memorable scene from a roadtrip with my girlfriend here.
Would you recommend this to other Lomographers? If yes, to whom do you have in mind?
Yes I would. If you can get your hands on any of the SRT range in good condition, I recommend that you grab it immediately. It will become an invaluable weapon in your arsenal. My SRT 201 has done so much to improve my photography over a relatively short period of time. I now understand the relation between aperture and depth of ﬁeld and know how to adjust my aperture for the desired effect without ruining the exposure. This might have happened with any manual camera but I feel that this camera made the realization natural for me, which makes the knowledge more intrinsic. On top of that, my learning curve did not result in any incorrectly exposed shots.
I think any ﬁlm fanatic will love this camera. The quality of Minolta is well apparent, the lens is fast with good glass and it is so easy to use. For those who are nervous about operating a fully manual camera or those who simply want to learn more about the relationship between shutter speed and aperture, this camera would be perfect.
When using this, what are your favorite subjects to photograph and why?
I love to photograph anything around me whether I am travelling or not. I certainly have a soft spot for animals and landscapes because I feel that the natural world is so much more pure and closer to perfection than the human race. That being said, I would love to explore portrait photography further because I think it is a beautiful aspect of photography. I am battling to feel comfortable when photographing other people though so that is an area that I hope to improve and grow in.
Michael shares five of his favorite photographs taken with his Weapon of Choice, Minolta SRT 201:
Any tips or tricks?
This camera and lens do not need heaps of light and photos taken in low light return gorgeous results! Don’t be afraid to shoot indoors or just after the sun has gone down just make sure that you are able to match the hoop and needle.
The lens produces great bokeh but don’t let that become a trap. Photos with a blurry background and a sharp subject certainly do pop and look good but don’t make every photo like that. Don’t be that guy. I was like that for a while. Learn to stop down.
Thank you Michael for sharing your Weapon of Choice!
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