The Joy of Photography, Joy Masi on her new exhibition at Philly Art Collective
In this 25-minute First Friday podcast, Wit speaks with photographer Joy Masi about her art practice, her inspirations in the arts, and her pop-up photography exhibition. Joy shares how she got into being a wedding photographer and how her friendships helped her to expand her passion in photography. Make sure to stop by Joy’s new pop-up exhibition on Friday, November 1, 2019 from 6-9 PM at Philly Art Collective gallery, located at 253 N. 3rd Street in the Old City neighborhood of Philadelphia!

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Joy Masi. Photo courtesy Wit López, edited by Morgan Nitz
Joy Masi. Photo courtesy Wit López, edited by Morgan Nitz

This 25-minute episode in Artblog Radio’s First Friday series explores the work and practice of photographer Joy Masi. Wit chats with Joy about her passion for photography, where it began and where she sees it going. Masi’s practice is singular and collaborative, using digital and analog photography to capture self-portraiture and portraits of others. For First Friday in November, Joy’s work will be on display as a pop-up exhibition at Philly Art Collective gallery. The gallery’s address is 253 N. 3rd Street. Check out the show, if you can!

Sincerest thanks to the staff at the Leeway Foundation for letting Artblog use their community room to record this podcast episode!


Wit López: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to another episode of Artblog radio! I’m your host for today, Wit López. I’m super excited to be sitting here with local artist Joy Masi. Thank you for joining me, Joy.

Joy Masi: [00:00:14] Thank you so much Wit I’m happy to be here.

WL: [00:00:16] Oh, that’s wonderful. That’s exciting. So Joy is a really really prolific photographer who’s been doing this work for a very very long time and I’m so excited to be talking to Joy about Joy’s work.
So Joy, one of the first photos that I saw of yours was a man standing there with this sky behind him and just throwing sand. And I was like, this is so beautiful, this is amazing! So what got you into photography?

JM: [00:00:41] Oh, well, thank you by the way. So photography started years ago. Definitely since I was a kid, I didn’t even realize I enjoyed it as much as I did.
It was probably early junior high, but little did I know that my hobby would turn to a passion. For sure. I realized like once I broke my first camera I needed a new one (laughter) cause I took so many pictures, you know, so yeah just started from there pretty much and escalated to taking pictures of friends.
I really enjoyed being in nature and photographing just good light, solid shadows . All those beautiful moments, but definitely that, friends, and you know, it’s somehow morphed into weddings and I started that when I was like 18 or 19 and then I went full-time as a wedding photographer around 2014.
So yeah, so I did that and I’m glad I made my way back about like three or four years ago into going back and just shooting for myself. So and that’s why this is great. So then I went back into creating portraits just like the one you saw and things like that and that was inspired by Ryan McKinley.
I think he did like some solid portraits of Brad Pitt that were super inspiring. Like the desert vibes, and everything like that. So it was really cool.

WL: [00:02:01] No, it’s amazing. It’s amazing. I really really love it. So you mentioned that you started wedding photography when you were 18. So what got you into that?

JM: [00:02:11] I was always posting pictures of like what I was taking and it wasn’t really much of anything to me at the time (laughter) but people and close friends saw it so somehow it just started with like, oh, I’m engaged. You know. Let’s have you take my pictures! I no idea what I was doing of course and but if that’s how it just kind of started! Engagement photos for friends and then someone trusted me with their wedding.
It was all by word-of-mouth thankfully.

WL: [00:02:37] That’s wonderful.

JM: [00:02:38] Oh, yeah. Yeah, really really awesome. But yeah, so from there I invested in- I think while I was still in college- I just, you know wanted to pay off bills and I wasn’t even thinking at the time I was like weddings are where it’s at. And you know what?
I’m enjoying it so far little did I know how much it would, because you know, it’s a business. So I invested into that, you know to be more recognized in that industry and I went from having seven weddings. I think in 2013 to like 24 the following year. Wow. Yeah, and then from there. Oh, yeah, so it was just like.
Definitely progressed from there and I didn’t realize (laughter) I just was like, this is money right here, and these are good people like let’s do this, but it’s a big stress so, you know running a business, but it’s also a blessing too. It’s always equal parts, you know.

WL: [00:03:32] That’s wonderful. That’s really really exciting. So I have done two weddings.

JM: [00:03:37] That’s awesome!

WL: [00:03:39] Just wedding photography twice, but I’m telling you this because I realized how stressful it was to be a wedding photographer in those two experiences that I had.
One of the first times that I did it, well actually THE first time that I did it, () obviously I’ve only done it twice- so (laughter) it’s only been two times- the first time that I did it. I was running back and forth the entire time running back like literally running. People being like, “Photographer over here! Photographer, over here! Photographer! Look at this thing! Take a picture of this child. Look at this button on this vest!”

JM: [00:04:12] “Can’t miss this moment over here, or that one there!” You know.

WL: [00:04:14] Right! And so there there’s so many moments that people want captured that it can be really stressful. I’m not saying that it is for you. I’m just saying from myself and my experience

JM: [00:04:23] Oh, no, it’s very. It can be and you never really know when you go into a wedding date like yeah, I set up a tentative timeline with the bride, but I emphasize- I’m just like “Hey, This is what we’re planning, but who knows how it’s really going to go? But regardless I’m going to be there and you got to remember that the biggest detail of the day is you, and your significant other, like you guys, you know. You guys in love and remembering what this day is about, you know half my job is ready done. You know. Just don’t lose sight of that.” You know, and you have to be adaptable, you know and cater to everyone to make sure everyone’s having a good time.
You know, I don’t want to take that moment away from anybody. But that’s also why I love wedding photography. It just helps me constantly see a moment from a different perspective. You know, it challenges me.

WL: [00:05:03] That’s fantastic.

JM: [00:05:06] So I yeah, I can definitely appreciate it changes perspectives of a moment and even though it’s like wedding after wedding. It’s always special in its own way.

WL: [00:05:16] Oh, definitely. Definitely the second wedding that I did out of the two– since I’ve only done two, Joy has done like three million.. (laughter) I’m just kidding,

JM: [00:05:27] Only half that, no.

WL: [00:05:30] But I noticed that other people, other family members were very very insistent on getting that shot. So if the bride and the groom were like, oh, we want a picture of this, I would try to take the photo and a family member would step in front of me with their cell phone!

JM: [00:05:50] Oh, no. (laughter) No, I feel that. Yeah, that’s why I gotta booty bump them. You know, just give a pop lock and drop, you know, just like “excuse me pardon me!”
No, I mean I’m so nice about it. I but yeah. It’s rough sometimes. You never know. Definitely. But you got to be adaptable for sure and I always try to let my brides and clients know and things like that, just like you know, “you did hire me for the day.”

WL: [00:06:15] Absolutely.

JM: [00:06:16] Yeah, and at the end of that you like you don’t want everyone else’s cell phones in the shot, you know, like that takes away from them being in the moment, and from you being in the moment, and who you invited, every person there is important to you on some level, you know.

Now they have like signs for like the ceremonies and things like that. It’s nice for everyone to just like be present. Put away your phones and trust the photographers. Yeah. I like to like have the officiant make the announcement and stuff like that. Even sometimes the DJs too. It helps, but sometimes it’s really out of your control and you just kind of got to go with it, you know.

WL: [00:06:47] That’s true. That’s true. Definitely. The day seems like that. A lot of times people do a lot of planning and none of that planning really works out the way people think that it will

JM: [00:06:58] Definitely gotta for sure just go with the flow. (laughter) For sure.

WL: [00:07:05] Absolutely. Absolutely. So within photography since this is a huge part of your life what who are your inspirations do you have other inspirations within the field of Photography or other arts?

JM: [00:07:18] Yeah, definitely. I’m constantly inspired, which is a huge blessing but I have you know, definitely like quite a few photographer friends too, which is like, hey, let’s meet up, you know, grab a camera, shoot. I might have a model. I might not. Or a friend to photograph or we’ll just photograph each other. I’m very thankful to have you know. A group a good group of friends like my one friend, Koji Sese, at the 7th Member. Yeah, he always is just like- especially when I was doing weddings- he was someone who was like “Hey take a break and stop shooting for you know, just work. Shoot for yourself.” And that’s what really helped me, you know broaden my horizons more or less of just like getting back into what I love because if you’re just constantly picking up, you know your art, or your know whatever you’re doing creatively, for money, you lose you lose sight of what you love. And photography IS my passion, and I was and I was doing it only for business at one point. So I’m definitely thankful to like have good friends like that who ground me. It’s really cool.

WL: [00:08:23] That’s wonderful. It sounds like you have a really great group of friends who are super supportive of you and your art practice.

So you mentioned nature before we got on the mics. So how do you use nature in your work? And how does it continue to inspire your art practice?

JM: [00:08:40] Honestly, I really feel like with nature things like that when it comes to just natural light and shadows and thinks it’s just always inspiring for me just going for a walk in the woods or just being by an ocean.

It’s the realest thing, you know, it’s what was always there and what will always be as much as we can preserve it

WL: [00:09:03] Absolutely.

JM: [00:09:03] Yeah. Yeah, definitely and that’s also a big part of. Like what makes me who I am. So I try to bring that out into into like my portraits and things like that. Definitely.

WL: [00:09:17] That’s really cool. It’s really awesome. So some of your work, I’ve noticed there’s a there’s one of a person at the beach, there’s as I said earlier the man holding the sand, there’s another of a person in the desert, where did you take these photos?

JM: [00:09:34] So I like the joke and like say Dubai or something like that, but I’m not that cool.
I can’t like fly there for the week and then come back, you know. Yeah, there’s there’s just some good spots. You know that I think that one spot was in New Jersey, you know.

WL: [00:09:47] Oh awesome!

JM: [00:09:48] I know one was in the Pine Barrens. The one that was in the desert. Yeah that was in New Jersey, really cool. You would never expect it, it was like past all these thick amounts of trees and forests and then there was like, I believe like a salt area, where people would go to like get salt for the roads. And yeah, we just use that make it work. Yeah, it’s really cool. Yeah, it’s all about perspective to like what you can see, you know, just with what’s there and how it can you make it different? Absolutely. That’s what I love about photography. Change perspective, make it your own.

WL: [00:10:22] Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. I mean when I saw the photo of the man with the sand, I originally thought it was in the desert and I was like, was that in the desert? And when you told me that it wasn’t, that was in New Jersey, that was like, oh, nowhere near the desert! (laughter) So no, you do a really excellent job of being able to change people’s perspectives. So thank you. Thank you. That was that was really cool.

JM: [00:10:46] I appreciate it. Thanks.

WL: [00:10:47] Yeah, no problem. So do you do anything outside of photography?

JM: [00:10:53] No, not really. I mean, it’s typically all photography related. I feel like it just naturally happens, even when I’m, you know, hanging out. It’s like I always have like some kind of camera in hand because it’s just like the moments come and go but yeah, I want to just lock them up just for a moment.

WL: [00:11:10] No, I hear that. I hear that. That’s really cool. Yeah, that’s really awesome. If you could have a different art practice, what do you think your branch out into?

JM: [00:11:17] Oh, that’s a good question.

WL: [00:11:21] (laughter) Sorry!

JM: [00:11:23] Dude. There’s so many options.

WL: [00:11:25] Oh, yeah.

JM: [00:11:25] Yeah probably music? Music is a beautiful way of expressing yourself, like in the moment, just going with the flow of that. Also painting’s wonderful, I did that a little bit before photography, but, you know, it is what it is. Yeah, I do love what I do. Definitely.

So aside from digital, I do shoot film, I try to incorporate that more with my shoots. It helps me simplify like the process of a regular photo shoot more or less because I could take, easy, like 400 pictures, you know, just like making it almost a stop motion film, you know, but I realized that film helps like shooting film in general helps me be more focused on an intentional with my images and each moment. So it’s nice.

WL: [00:12:22] That’s awesome. So Joy, I saw that you have a show coming up for First Friday in November.

And you’re going to be at Philly Art Collective! For those of you who are listening, Philly Art Collective Gallery is located at 253 North 3rd Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 19106. That’s 253 North Third Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19106.

So what are you going to be showing at this show at the Philadelphia Art Collective Gallery?

JM: [00:12:51] So it’ll be a lot of personal favorites.
You know some that you’ve already seen, probably, too. I also want to incorporate what I’ve been really focusing on, which is like a lot of my travel photos, like little moments from there too. That I kind of like keep close to myself. So it should be exciting. It’s like a little mixture of everything but I also want to show that like in general photography and art and things like that, it is part of who I am, you know. Not just like, a nice portrait too, it’s like just that raw like, moment of genuine authenticity, you know, that’s why I like shooting with film too, cause I just see it, I take it and it’s my own. For sure.

WL: [00:13:33] That’s wonderful. That’s really exciting. I’m really looking forward to seeing that show on the 1st. I’m really hoping that a lot of folks will stop by for this pop-up exhibit that’s going to be at the Philly Art Collective Gallery.
So do you have any shows coming up outside of this show?

JM: [00:13:53] Well one is in the works. It’s not official yet, but I would like to have this be a start of like many more, and also collaborations too, with like other photographers, other artists too.
So I really enjoy doing this and it’s a great chance for like to bring Community together.

WL: [00:14:10] Absolutely, absolutely I definitely think photography brings a lot of folks together. So that’s really cool. That’s a really great idea who are some of your favorite artists in the city to collaborate with?

JM: [00:14:22] As I did mention, you know, my friend Koji, Koji Sese at the 7th Member, and also J.R. and Richie, we’re a collective called The Film Grain Collective, which is really exciting. So we’re always traveling together and shooting film. Yeah, it’s great. And Drake Masters too, so Koji, Drake and I, we also, at the last Thursday of every month- it might change- but we also have our own meet up for other photographers too it’s called the Photo Book Club, which is really cool.

WL: [00:14:57] Oh that sounds really cute! Photo book club, that’s exciting.

JM: [00:15:02] So it’s exciting. It’s it’s like what I want too, like what we were talking about, because Community is a big deal. It’s so easy to be so disconnected. We want to feel validated with our art or whatever we’re creating just by posting something online.

WL: [00:15:18] Definitely.

JM: [00:15:19] But we don’t realize the power of just like being like face-to-face with each other, you know, like true connection

WL: [00:15:26] Absolutely.

JM: [00:15:26] Definitely. So it’s just the start. So we’ve been working on that for almost a year now, come and go, we’re trying to like, you know, figuring little things out, but it’s exciting. I like what we’re progressing into. So yeah, that’s really cool.

WL: [00:15:40] So I noticed on your website that you have photos that are photos of other artists. So what what’s the deal with that?

JM: [00:15:50] So that’s a personal project. I’m doing on the side for myself. I do enjoy photographing models, you know, they’re wonderful. They’re easy to work with to some extent. You know, it just more or less. It’s like they’re confident in the camera and it’s like, okay. I like this here. Let’s work with it, you know, and it’s awesome, but I want more connection and I and I really love just the vibe of shooting, you know, more atmosphere, environmental vibes, you know, so. So I love photographing artists surrounded by their artwork, or even I want to like progress this more into bands, to music, all forms of art. Yeah, so I’m trying to connect with like people who create pottery, and clay, and all different vibes, but I just love it. Yeah, and it’s a great chance to meet other people and especially local artists to

WL: [00:16:43] Absolutely.

JM: [00:16:44] Yeah, I’m all for it.

WL: [00:16:45] That’s really cool. I mean one of the photos that I really enjoyed is a person sitting on the floor surrounded by these giant canvases and the canvases look so amazing. I love the paint on the canvases.

JM: [00:17:00] Oh, Allegra!

WL: [00:17:00] It’s really bright and it just feels energetic the paintings do that’s really cool. Who would you say that was?

JM: [00:17:06] That’s Allegra! art psychic. That’s her work. She’s very talented, as you can see clearly. So it was it was an honor to really photograph her.

WL: [00:17:17] That’s cool. How many have you done so far in that series would you say?

JM: [00:17:22] Maybe a solid 3 to 4.

WL: [00:17:26] Okay.

JM: [00:17:27] Yeah, but I have booked I actually did book like two to shoot in the next like month or so, after this art show, you know, I want to get back into it more and more. Definitely looking forward to and have an opportunity to maybe travel more and photograph artists too so yeah,

WL: [00:17:43] That sounds amazing. That sounds really amazing. That’s a really exciting project.

So there’s another person (laughter) in another photo. But the images around this person- there’s a lot more browns, and tans, and greens. It’s also a person sitting on the floor surrounded by art work, I believe maybe in an art studio. Is this one of the photos in the series as well?

JM: [00:18:10] It is! Yeah, Francis. She’s of course very talented, as you can see right there. That was her own personal art studio in her home and actually it was probably smaller than this table- this conference table- but thankfully, I had a wide lens and you know, it was able to all fit it right in the shot.

It’s like some time, some patience. But yeah, I just loved how the soft little window light was coming through and I was like, let’s work with that. It was great collaborating with her, it really was.

WL: [00:18:42] It’s beautiful. No the lighting, and the lighting between this image with Francis, and the image with Allegra, is very starkly different and I love it.
Like the lighting is a little darker and Allegra’s photo. And the images are also very different like the colors are a lot brighter in the paintings than they are and Francis is work. So I love that contrast It’s really it’s beautiful. Like you have a really great eye for color and for capturing the color in these
images.

JM: [00:19:14] Thank you so much.

WL: [00:19:16] No, that’s awesome.

JM: [00:19:18] Yeah, they were really easy to work with definitely made my job so easy. That’s why that’s why I love it too. It’s just like show me what you created and what you love and let’s photograph. That’s amazing.

WL: [00:19:31] So I noticed that these are digital photos.

JM: [00:19:33] Yes, those are.

WL: [00:19:35] But you also mentioned that you’ve done 35 millimeter film as well.

JM: [00:19:39] Yeah, I really enjoy doing that also. Yeah, so especially when I travel. I love to just carry film with me it because I can easily if I had digital my goodness. I would not be able to put my camera down but knowing that I only had a certain amount of exposures, you know, and I need to be present, you know with myself and you know, what’s going on that like film helps me just be more diligent with myself, pretty much.
But also even with I just recently probably the past couple of months. I’ve started shooting film with like portrait sessions with like models and other people. Yeah, it helps me be more in control and intentional with my images like each moment that’s photographed. So I appreciate that too. And also I like to recently I just started scanning and developing too. So it’s like a nice little meditation. Yeah, definitely.

WL: [00:20:36] That’s awesome. Yeah, for sure think of it as a meditative process.

JM: [00:20:40] Yeah, it’s exciting to you know, and just knowing that from beginning to end. I was able to just follow the process is it’s nice. It’s humbling too, you know.

WL: [00:20:50] Absolutely.

JM: [00:20:51] Yeah, it helps me focus more on like what I want to do better next, too. So it’s all trial and error in the long run. So just go with the flow of that.

WL: [00:20:59] Definitely, definitely makes sense. That’s really cool. Have you thought of branching into other photographic types of work?

JM: [00:21:06] What do you mean exactly, like subjects?

WL: [00:21:10] You know, that’s a great question. I probably should have asked a more clear question. I mean, I’ve seen a lot of different types of photographic processes. So I guess different ways of developing film or collaging photographs.

JM: [00:21:29] Oh yeah, those are fun too.

WL: [00:21:30] Drawing over photographs, I don’t know!

JM: [00:21:34] Yeah, I’ve only painted on like a few photos. I like that kind of idea. I thought I was going to do more of a series with that, I may come back to that. So that’s fun. Collages, I’ve seen that. I haven’t really been drawn to that too much, but I have a great appreciation for it. Definitely, but more or less, I know regardless like of where I am now and where I’ve been it’s just you’re constantly growing, you know, that’s the great thing and the only way is if you challenge yourself you do something a little bit differently.

WL: [00:22:04] Absolutely.

JM: [00:22:05] And that’s the exciting part about this. You don’t ever reach a certain level and you just keep going.

WL: [00:22:10] Absolutely. Absolutely. It’s true. And you’re really doing like marvelous work!

JM: [00:22:15] Thank you so much.

WL: [00:22:16] I’m super impressed by it.

JM: [00:22:18] That means a lot coming from you. Thank you.

WL: [00:22:21] It doesn’t mean anything coming from me (laughter)

Joy Masi: [00:22:24] It does though! If you mean it (laughter)

WL: [00:22:28] I do I do! (laughter) I’m sorry, I’m joking (laughter) I’m really looking forward to your show that’s going to be at the Philly Art Collective on November 1st.

JM: [00:22:44] Yeah!

WL: [00:22:44] That’s really exciting.

JM: [00:22:46] Yeah. I’m a little nervous, but I’m excited too at the same time. I’m just excited to… I don’t know, it’s going to be nice thing like familiar faces, new faces, and everyone.
Just kind of being in a room surrounded by my work. It’s going to be really humbling experience honestly, but also I hope people hang out for a little bit get to know one another to. Like I said looking forward to community. So I think it’s essential.

WL: [00:23:09] Absolutely. Absolutely. So you also have a self portrait portion of your practice as well. So what some photographers never step in front of their own camera..

JM: [00:23:20] Oh, yeah

WL: [00:23:20] ..And don’t want to be in front of anyone else’s either.

JM: [00:23:22] I feel that too though!

WL: [00:23:27] So so what made you decide to do self portraiture?

JM: [00:23:31] Okay. Well when I started out I was doing so many more self portraits because I didn’t even know about models and things like that at the time or I thought I had to, you know, be one of those photographers like all out there in New York or LA. But yeah, so self-portraits kind of just started with just trial and error more or less. It helps me also love myself a little bit more, you know? Sometimes it’s just so random like I just see good light and I’m just like, let me just step in front of it real quick, you know, or I take a silhouette and it’s like, oh, I’ll just throw a double exposure on there of like water or something.

You know, I never really know I never really see like oh, I hope this turns out, more or less it’s just like I’m just going to try it just for myself. But yeah, I’m slowly getting back into that more. So yeah, it’s just… It’s nice. It’s nice to try to there’s you know, you only have so many perspectives of yourself too, but to have that camera know that there’s like a different lens and different perspectives of that. It’s nice.

WL: [00:24:37] Oh absolutely, absolutely. No that that sounds really great.

Well Joy, thank you so much for joining me today on Artblog radio! It has been a wonderful time talking with you and learning more about your art practice. I’m absolutely looking forward to your show that’s going to be up at the Philly Art Collective Gallery, November 1st.

For those of you who are listening, once again, that is 253 North Third Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106. It’ll be November 1st, which is a Friday- a First Friday to be specific- and it’s from 6 to 9 p.m. And it’s free and open to the public. So make sure that you stop by while you’re making your rounds for First Friday.

Thank you again, Joy. It’s been wonderful many thanks to the folks at Leeway Foundation for allowing us to use their community room to record this episode of Artblog radio. If you’re listening, you can listen to it on our website on Apple podcasts or on Spotify.
Thanks so much. Have a wonderful day.
Bye y’all.

You can listen to Artblog Radio on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Tags

art, artblog radio, artist, gallery, Joy Masi, leeway foundation, philadelphia, philly art collective, photography, Wedding photography

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