Interview with: James Juranke

James Juranke is a Melbourne photographer with a passion for analog photography and the added depth that shooting on film can bring to an image. We are featuring a series of images from both James’ editorial folio and his personal work – including an exclusive series with model Heewan Yang.


How did you first get started in photography?
It really started for me as a kid when I used to buy disposable cameras with my pocket money. When I was 15, I got a ‘Made in the USSR’ Zenit-E SLR for Christmas and it just continued from there. I used to stay back at school in the dark room, buy all my own film and develop my own photos. At the same time digital photography was taking off and I studied digital imaging at the National Arts School in Sydney and it all went from there.

Why do you photograph? What motivates you to pursue photography as a career; is it financial, emotional or none of the above?
It was definitely emotional for me with photography, especially when I first started off. I found it was a way of expressing my emotions and feelings at the time. I used to take self-portraits and photos of the things around me – I guess what every teenager does with a camera. As time went along, I used it as a way of showing bigger stories with models and connecting more things to the photo.

With my personal work, I guess it is a raw connection between the viewer and the model.

How would you define your style? What is it that you want your images to say?
A good question… I find my style is often changing, depending if it is my fashion work or my personal (film) work. With my personal work, I guess it is a raw connection between the viewer and the model. I like to tell my story through the model as well as including their own story in the photo as well. I don’t plan my personal work photoshoots too much; I go along with the feelings and emotions on the day and come out with stories on film. I think this style in my personal work carries over a little in to my fashion work; I do structure my fashion shoots but at the same time I let the story-telling element come through a little.

You shoot your fashion/editorial work on digital capture, but I also know that you shoot a lot of your personal projects on film and/or Polaroid; what is it about analog photography that interests you?
I started on film photography and so I guess I am always drawn back to it. I find it raw and it has more depth and feeling to it. Every shoot is different, just like every story is different, so the results are always mixed. With Polaroid, the best part is that they are instant and the model can see the results – I sometimes get them to write on the Polaroid what they feel about the photo when they look at it. I am also a big movie fan; some of my favourite movie directors and cinematographers (Wong Kar-Wai, Christopher Doyle and Quentin Tarantino just to name a few) still prefer to use film in their movie making – even today they sometimes still use it. One of my favourite movies is Chungking Express, the colours and the cross-processing of the film helps connect the raw emotions so much more to the movie – something I don’t think you will ever get with digital.

What has been the high-point of your career to date?
This year I was invited to be part of a group exhibition in Budapest, Hungary – part of The Ad Hoc Budapest Photography Association. I had some of my work on display from the China Doll series that I did a few years ago – it was an honour to be invited to be part of it. I think the high-point so far  though was a group collaboration I did in Tokyo, Japan last year; I got to work with my good friend Emre Kaan Sezer ( His day job is working for Turkish Airlines and he does photography on the side. We coordinated a photoshoot at the Shingon Temple in Narita, Chiba shooting with the temple and the amazing gardens around us. The shoot was nothing big and nothing was published but it was great to be part of something that was so international – that we came together from all parts of the world to work on a photoshoot.

Have you ever had a shoot that has gone spectacularly wrong and what were your learnings from it?
Well, fingers crossed, I haven’t had anything too major that has gone wrong on a shoot. I have had the weather change on a location fashion shoot – out in the streets with no cover during a thunderstorm. I have had the outfits not fitting the model correctly and slipping off mid shoot. I think the worst though, was a photoshoot for my personal work; I was shooting with my Mamiya RB67 at the time. I was in a rush when I left the house that day and only grabbed the one film back. I shot three rolls of film on it only to discover it was my faulty back with a light leak and so the photos didn’t turn out to plan.  From then, I have always given myself more time to pack my gear correctly before a shoot. I have now gotten into a habit where I will check my bags up to three times to make sure I have packed all the correct gear.

What is next for you?
Well, as they say, I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag just yet. I have a few things on the radar; I have been toying around with the idea of cinematography and movies, so the idea of going back to do more studies has crossed my mind. I am also working on a photo book and hoping to have it out by the end of 2016. My fashion work is continuing to ‘do its own thing’ and I have some ongoing fashion campaigns locally and interstate, and so this will mean more travel for 2016.
I am currently donating my time to the charity fashion show, EmpowerMe, in February – this event will focus on empowering women and raising money for female asylum seekers in Australia. I am excited to be the photographer for this event.

See more of James’ work at:

Website / Tumblr / Instagram / Facebook

All images copyright James Juranke.