Q&A: Murphy Moschetta

Photo – Tim Lyons

Murphy Moschetta is a photographer out of Pittsburgh, PA. It was his B&W film portraits that initially caught my attention. Click below for a Q&A to learn more about the dude.

Cory Nastazio

Name, age and location?

Murphy Lee Moschetta – 31yrs – Pittsburgh, Pa

How long have you been shooting?

I’ve been playing with cameras for as long as I can remember, but I guess I’ve been “really” shooting since I was about 15yrs or so.

What got you into photography? Do you remember a moment or a certain image that piqued your interest?

I almost always had a disposable camera in my riding bag, but I was pretty clueless until I took a black and white film photography class in 10th or 11th grade. At that point in time I was riding a little bit, but spending a lot of time at  punk/metal shows. My photo teacher, Dennis Swogger, was super into concert photography (still is. He rules). He took a notice of what I was into, so he recommended that I take my camera to a show. That’s what kind of hooked me.

As far as BMX photography goes, I was completely drawn in by photos in the magazines in the early 00’s. Many a page was poorly taped to my childhood bedroom wall. 

What was your first camera?

My first 35mm SLR was a Canon Rebel. I had to have one for that high school photo class. It was “cheap.” So that’s what I went with. 

My first digital was a Canon 20D. I believe it was Canon’s middle of the road DSLR at the time though I’m sure it was purchased a few years out of date. I’m not very good at keeping up with the newest, latest, and greatest tech.

I notice you shoot film and digital. Where do you stand on the film vs. digital thing?

I never really looked at it as film vs. digital. There are aspects of both that I very much enjoy. 

I love shooting digital. It’s more convenient, fairly forgiving, instantly gratifying, and incredibly versatile. With that being said, there is a certain feeling that processing film in a darkroom provides me that digital just can’t replicate. It’s slow, quiet, and meditative. It’s a break from the crazy fast times that we live in. 

This might be too deep but here goes… So photography, to me, is basically the art of seeing. Conversely, while processing film in a darkroom, the photographer is (temporarily) stripped of their ability to see. That always got me.

Dad
Mom
Mat Hoffman
Tom Dugan

I first noticed your photography through your B&W film portraits, which look great and definitely stand out. What camera do you use for those?

Mamiya 645af medium format film camera with an 80mm lens. Pre digital back compatibility. 

How did you end up with that particular camera?

I never had the opportunity to use a medium format camera in high school or college, but I always loved the image quality and the aesthetic of a larger frame.

Every once in a while I peruse Craigslist in hopes of running across someone trying to unload old gear. Honestly, I didn’t know much. I had been playing with my Grandmother’s (mom’s mom) old Kodak Duaflex IV for a bit but wanted to shoot with something more modern or at least with more control. That thing had two shutter speeds, bulb or ¼ of a second. You even have to hand roll film from a 120 roll onto a skinnier 620 spool, or file down the plastic of a 120 roll to use it in the 620 camera… Anyway, I found the Mamiya on Craigslist for a good price and it was significantly more modern than anything I had been looking at. It was from the era where digital was just starting to takeover.

Tim Lyons / Nick Dettorre

Favorite film(s)?

llford HP5 400 or Kodak tmax 400 are my go to’s. 

Do you process your own film?

I do. I process film in my state of the art darkroom. Sorry. I use a combination of gaff tape and a towel to seal the cracks around my bathroom door, and block light from a two way heater vent with a piece of cardboard or the bath mat. Luckily there are no windows in my bathroom. 

Mason Ritter

Onto digital. What’s your setup there?

Body: I recently upgraded to a Canon 5D mkIV. I’ve held on to my 7D & 60D as backups.

Lenses: Canon 70-200 f2.8, Canon 24-70 f4, Rokinon 12mm f2.8

Lighting:

A few older Canon flashes, a super outdated White Lighting 600 strobe, and some Pocket Wizards (1 black, 2 yellow, and 2 Barbie Dream House Pink. When you have gear stolen, insurance will replace it with whatever is cheapest for them.) I also have this theory that lighting is the biggest ripoff in the photography industry, so I don’t put a ton of stock into buying the best gear I can find. I guess I’ve always been the type to work with whatever I have or is affordable. 

Any reason you went Canon?

My dad had a Canon. Since his was broken at the time, he bought me that Canon Rebel for the high school class.  Thanks Pops.

Side note: My dad’s dad was an ameture photographer of sorts. He passed away when my dad was in his teens. Apparently he had a dark room set up under the steps at his (now my parent’s) house. That’s probably why he jumped and bought the camera for the class. My dad actually gave me his dad’s old Grafflex some  years ago. I had it refurbished, but haven’t dabbled too much yet.

Chris Doyle

I guess it’s safe to assume that you prefer your Canon for action shots yeah?

Most of the time, yes. If I’m dealing with good natural lighting, then I’ll shoot some film.

Outside of bike related stuff, what do you like to shoot?

I still really enjoy shooting concerts. I’ve recently been doing work with a jazz organization in Pittsburgh that has been pretty interesting. Coming from my early days photographing punk shows, it’s kind of nice to go into a show knowing absolutely nothing about the performers and discovering something that is pretty out of my ordinary listening spectrum.  

I’m also really stoked on making photos that seem to make some kind of an impact by raising awareness or funds for a cause. Over the past few years I’ve done a little bit of work with The ALS Association Western PA Chapter to photograph some events. Those photos are then used in marketing campaigns to raise funds that directly help people in my area who suffer from ALS. If you remember the Ice Bucket Challenge from a few years ago, that’s the organization. 

This is a shameless plug, if you feel like helping someone: www.cure4als.org

Favorite photographers?

Bikes: Long Time: Rob Dolecki, Keith Terra, Keith Mulligan, Steve Buddendeck, and Vince Perraud ( bikes or not, he finds the best light!)

Of Recent: Josh McElwee, Tasha Lindemann, Naoki Gaman, Brett Rothmeyer

Not Bikes:  Teenie Harris, Dennis Swogger, Tanner Douglass, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Ansel Adams, Ross Halfin, Lee Tanner, Chris Hondros, Annie Leibovitz, Sebastião Salgado, Dorothea Lang, James Nachtwey, Robert Capa, Devin Allen… For the reader’s sake, I’ll stop here.

Thanks Murphy. We’ll keep an eye out for future work. Anything you’d like to add before we wrap up?

Be good to each other. Do whatever makes you feel like you. Just keep pedaling. 

Eric Miller

Comments are closed.