Artist Spotlight: Roger Yu of 202filmcollective

Being a D.C. based magazine, we wanted to give a shout out to all the great things happening in our city and provide information and resources to our local film community. To do this, we are focusing July’s Artist Spotlight on a community organization for film photographers rather than an individual artist.

202filmcollective’s co-founder Roger Yu took some time out of his schedule to fill us in on what the 202filmcollective is all about, how it’s changed him as a photographer, and what it means for the local DC community.

Artist Spotlight: Roger Yu of 202filmcollective

What made you want to be a film photographer?

I'm lucky in that I grew up through the transition from film to digital. As a kid, I always liked playing around with my dad's Minolta Maxxum 7000 as well as Polaroid box cameras. In high school, I took a film photography class and learned how to shoot, develop and print from film. After that, however, I, like many other photographers in the early 2000s switched over to digital as that was considered the way of the future. It wasn't until I was in grad school when I became bored and stagnant with my photography that I decided to go back to film. At first, it was driven by nostalgia, but soon I found the process to be much simpler and less complicated than shooting digital. Eventually, I made the switch to 100% film for my own personal work and haven't looked back since.

What prompted you to create the 202filmcollective?

It was simply out of necessity. When I moved from North Carolina to DC in 2016 I found that I was missing the connection to other film photographers that I enjoyed back home. There didn't seem to be any groups or organizations completely dedicated to film photography in the DMV area so I decided to just start one from scratch. I pitched the idea to Stephen (co-founder) and it didn't take much convincing to get him on board.

When you created 202filmcollective, what did you envision it would do for the community?

In the beginning, honestly not much. We had originally envisioned the purpose of the group to simply be a social gathering of film photographers. Our idea of success was if even a handful of people showed up to any of our events. So when the actual number of people who attended our first ever meetup in March of 2017 was tenfold what we were expecting, we had to quickly reevaluate our goals for what 202filmcollective was to become. It was obvious that we had tapped into a deep well of interest in film photography, from the likes of which included novices to experts, and everyone in between. As a result we decided to center our mission around promoting and educating all things related to film photography.

Do you feel like 202filmcollective is fulfilling its mission/purpose?

Absolutely. We've continually been overwhelmed with the response we get from our community members. Not only have we hosted a variety of educational workshops on topics such as developing, printing, and even photo books, but we've also managed to bring together a diverse and multi-talented community of film shooters from all backgrounds and experiences. In a way, we succeeded in our original vision for the group by helping to forge friendships through our common passion for film.

What would you say to film photographers who are interested in being a part of 202filmcollective?

We are the most inclusive photographers you'll ever meet. Maybe it's because by shooting film we've all had to deal with so much negativity from naysayers and "hipster" haters, or just the constant barrage of disappointment regarding film stock discontinuations. Whatever your reasons may be, if you're into film you're family to us.

Some of Roger's film photographs of Ueno Station (Tokyo, Japan)

Some of Roger's film photographs of Ueno Station (Tokyo, Japan)

How did creating and managing 202filmcollective change you as an artist?

For me personally, witnessing the myriad of talent and diversity in styles from our members has made me realize just how limited and one-dimensional my own personal work is by comparison. Being able to talk to and watch so many different artists work their craft really opens your eyes to how much creativity can be done within the same medium. Color, black and white, multiple exposure, long exposure, etc. There's always something more to learn from interacting with other creatives and I'm constantly growing as an artist as a result.

What do you see for the future of 202filmcollective?

Now that 202filmcollective has passed its 1-year mark, we have a good number of members who have been with us for quite a while. As a result, Stephen and I are taking a step back from leading every event and instead we'll be looking to our own members to organize and run things from now on. In fact, we've already had a couple meetups and workshops that came completely from our own members and dare we say, they made it very clear how easily replaceable Stephen and I are. Additionally, now that we've successfully created a name for ourselves in the DMV photography community, we have our sights on growing an online presence. There are many great film photography groups and individuals that provide resources and inspiration for this hobby, and we hope to be a part of that worldwide community.

Roger Yu of 202filmcollective

Share with us some of the upcoming projects that 202filmcollective has planned.

We would love to tell you everything that we have planned for 202 but we don't want to spoil the surprise! Let's just say that we've got some video projects in the works that will be unveiled very soon.

Check more of 202filmcollective and Roger Yu