Can you shut off your mind and really shoot without thinking? And some other loose thoughts.
I recently did a film swap with asharnanae and she sent me a roll of Fujichrome T64. I never had one and as they are discontinued, maybe it will be my only one. So I started thinking what I can do with it, I am surely not going to waste it. This made me wondering about the ‘just shoot don’t think’ adagium. Actually I put a lot of thinking in my lomographic adventures, but on the other hand I never use the veiwfinder on my Holga and I shoot, from the hip while I am walking. How do these two combine, I don’t know. I will try to figure it out for myself by contemplating on a few shots I took.
This is a shot I took more than five years ago with my Holga. It is shot from the hip while walking through a crowd. I like the framing, the ascending line of heads. That surely is a lucky and unintended framing. But I could not disable my experience as a photographer. The evening was falling and I had a Kodak Tmax400 loaded. I knew I was going to get an underxposed shot, so I fired deliberately the shutter 4 times and I new Ii was going to get silhouettes. The result was just better than I hoped for, but even though I was walking and shooting from the hip, I never stopped thinking.
I took this shot walking through Metz. It is also shot with Tmax400. I was walking with my wife and baby and I just saw this building, I saw the shade on the building. Took the Holga and fired it. The shot came out as I wanted to. After using the Holga for more than 7 years, I pretty much now what will be in the frame when I keep it in front of me (I keep my eye where the viewfinder should be, above the lens). It is another walking shot, taken in a few seconds but I could not discard my experience of shooting many years with that camera. I notice this when I use my Diana. Recently I had put in a 4X4 mask and I used the 110 telelens. I had no experience in shooting 4X4 and it was the first time I used the 110 lens. I shot it as I shoot the Holga. I was pretty sure the shots were going to framed as I thought. But they weren’t. In the photo below, the devils face should have been in the centre. I don’t think it will take long to get acquainted with the 4X4 format.
So for me, thinking about a photograph means, putting your camera on a tripod, walking around the subject looking for the right angle and spending a lot of time in framing it when you’ve found the right angle. “Just shoot and don’t think” means to me: walking into the right spot, seeing it and shooting, all in one sec. without putting aside all your experience and knowledge. That’s by the way impossible I think. One last pic. This girl was a meter away from me. I just took my Sprockrock, twisted the lens to close, put it in front of the girls face because her mum wasn’t looking for a moment (you can get in serious trouble shooting kids since Dutroux happened to us). I knew I was placing her not in the center of the frame and I hoped some of the people in the back would be included. So this picture was taken in a split second, but I really used my mind, without actually thinking ! ! so that’s how the two combine ! !
Now some small talk. Time for some nonsenses. According to myself there are three kinds of professional photographers and they have their own distinct ways of reacting on lomography. The first kind is rather boring, they have the stench of business all over them. They don’t care if you shoot lomographs, they even don’t care what they shoot themselves, as long as it is profitable. The second category is the funniest: The narrowminded professional who thinks his way is the only right way. I know a few of them and they are always picking on other photographers work, always picking fights with eachother. One of them shoots models with very complicated light setups and he’s a real pro at photoshop. He goes nuts when you don’t retouch wrinkles and stuff. Another one is a classic wedding photographer, he goes crazy when a picture is cropped right below the knees. But then there is me to unite them all. When I drop the word ‘lomography’ they get fysically ill. And when they see me putting a Fuji Velvia in a toy camera, they get to the point of having a seizure. I have to admit that my heart also bleeds a little when I cross process Velvia. When you see the colours when you process it normally, it is better than reality.
The problem is… Velvia just gives great X-pro results
The last category are mostly elder photographers which are surrounded by the gentle odour of liquor and art. Last week I was at my photolab unloading my Diana and a guy in his sixties walked up to me. He introduced himself as the house photographer of the Festival of Flanders, which is quite prestigious. He said he was very glad that I was still shooting analogue. when I told him I shoot mostly with toy cameras and plastic lenses, he answered he really liked that because you can do artistic things with them. So we got a talk about our shared love for the Hasselblad system. He told me a funny story about Cartier-Bresson that didn’t make any sense. The liquor I guess…
So tomorrow I am back with some Russian cameras. Hopefully my Lomo 135BC arrives tomorrow. I found one for 10 euros. I hope it will work.