Joe Perri went through over 40 rolls of 35mm film during his first trip out of the country. The photographer— armed with a travel backpack filled with basic essentials, clothes, two small 35mm cameras, film, books, and a few blank journals—traveled through Iceland, Italy, Barcelona and Paris this past spring. He captured some pretty idyllic frames along the way, landing back on US soil a changed man. Sound too good to be true? We get it. Then again, after being charmed by Icelandic wild horses, Parisian hostesses, a gaggle of friendly Spanish skateboarders, and the sprawling Italian countryside, you just might find yourself won over by bucolic nirvana, too.
Perri is a narrative junkie living in LA, where he relocated just over two years ago after growing up in South Florida. He began taking photos in high school, fueled by a passion for storytelling. Throughout his relatively brief tenure as a full-time photographer (it’s only been about five years), Joe has shot everything from outdoor lifestyle to fashion, and has an uncanny knack for finding and capturing intimate moments.
We caught up with Perri in a well-lit corner of Hollywood’s Café Solar. A few hours of travel stories and hundreds of pictures later, we decided upon our Vacation Issue cover. Chatting over salmon and coffee, Joe thoughtfully recounted his adventures for us.
LA CANVAS: Was it difficult to choose when to put the camera down and live in the moment?
JOE PERRI: The only struggle I really had was hoping that I shot enough film at each location. I felt so caught up at times—because there was so much that I had never seen or experienced before—that I probably missed some moments. But, sometimes, the memory is satisfying enough.
Which place gave you the most energy? Which place made you think?
JP: Barcelona, Spain definitely gave me the most energy. The streets were always packed with people enjoying life: eating, drinking, conversing, etc. It was easy to walk outside every morning and pick up on that energy; the culture was thriving and rich. Iceland, on the other hand, was a place where you would get lost in your thoughts. It was so vast and quiet; sometimes, I wouldn’t see another soul for hours. It was solitude in the best form—and I enjoyed every second of it.
LAC: What was the best part about going alone? Did you ever wish you had someone else with you?
JP: The best part about going alone was having solitude, and being able to move about and function at my own pace. It gave me the opportunity to think and spend time in the moments that really fulfilled me. Every so often, though, I felt the photo wouldn’t do the place or moment justice, and having someone else there to experience it with me would have been nice. Next time!
LAC: What’s the best part about coming back?
JP: I was pretty disconnected from my friends and family, so being able to come back and share my stories felt great. Sleeping in my own bed and staying still for some time was such a relief as well: a month of traveling every single day totally drained me, but nothing felt better than going through all the film…I didn’t remember everything that I had shot, so seeing all the images felt very nostalgic. It felt as though I was reliving my trip all over again: same excitement, same thrill.
Follow JP’s thrills on Instagram for adventurous sightings.