Best known around here as ali55, Alison tells us about her shooting style and cameras of choice, "I always try and change it up a bit with cameras because capturing life in shots also really depends on what you use!"
Name: Alison Bowles (aka ali55)
From: Victoria, BC, Canada
Currently Living In: Victoria!
Please tell the community the story of how and where you got into Lomography in the first place.
I was well aware of analogue photography when I was young; our family snapped away on film cameras. However, it was not until I was in high school that I really became interested in taking photos and, I must confess, it was due to a friend’s small digital camera. In university, I took several photography courses, borrowing a friend’s SLR for projects. There is no denying, I sponged off people to use their camera…I started to become fascinated in capturing everyday life. Then, about three years ago, before I left to go to Greece on a university course, I finally (!!) decided to purchase my own photographic device. But I wanted something fun, easy to use, and different and that is when I found Lomography!
I had never heard of it before, but I purchased an odd circular, black and silver, camera (the fisheye 2) from a small, secondhand shop. Wondering what the hell it was?! It was not until six months after using the camera, I really became aware of the philosophy surrounding lomography and the online community. From then on, (as they say) the rest is history!
What cameras do you use most?
I have quite a few cameras now! Each one is different and special in their own right. I alternate between them because I enjoy capturing a moment in various perspectives; I am also very indecisive when it comes to picking what camera to use! At this moment, I use my Fujifilm Instant a lot because I love instant photography and dream of purchasing a SX-70 Polaroid one day. Another camera, I cherish and use is my Grandpa’s Werra 1. The images from it are so vivid, but also have a vintage look at the same time and I absolutely enjoy snapping away with it!!
What is the best part about living in beautiful B.C.?
If you love the sea, tall trees, hiking, kayaking, skiing, and fresh air, come to the West Coast, specifically Vancouver Island!!! I live in Victoria; the capital of BC and love it. The city offers many things to do, but it definitely does not have a typical city feel…rather it has a laid back and hippy atmosphere. One of my favourite spots to adventure to on the Island is the train trestle (you may have seen it in my photos) near Gold Stream Park. A train comes by only twice a day, so people do wonder up there. When you walk across it, you really feel small surrounded by the West Coast environment with the blue sky above, the tops of the giant trees near you, and a river below. BC, especially Victoria, also gets that best weather in Canada (of course I’m slightly biased).
It must be cool having a twin sister! Is she into Lomography too? Do you guys do a lot of shoots together… tells us about it!
Initially, Rachel, my twin sister, was the one who had a camera during high school, but I always seemed to be the one using it…she didn’t appear to mind. Rach enjoys being in photos, which is awesome because she is the perfect model. I like her style, look, and, most importantly, she is comfortable in front of the camera!
Lomography is certainly my interest rather than hers, which is nice because, when you’re a twin, it’s good to have your own hobbies sometimes. But when ever an idea for a photo shoot pops in my head, I always think of Rachel being a part of it; she is very photogenic.
What role would you say photography plays in your life? Hobby, obsession, outlet, any of these?
I would say all of the above!! Lomography has become a passion and way of life that I absolutely enjoy; I’m always thinking of what looks good in photographs. If you look in my bag, you will find a camera. Right now, I’m carrying around my La Sardina loaded with a new film I have never experimented with before: Kodak Elitechrome. I also just developed a roll of black and white film taken on the Sardina of my cousin’s wedding…the camera was certainly a conversation starter (I had about 25 people asking about it! Lomography has really allowed me to develop my creativity and explore what I would like to do in the future such as working in a photo gallery.
You have a great knack for capturing the moment in a shot; they are always so full of movement. How do you pick the time to snap?
Thank you! I photograph whenever or wherever I can and I think that is the trick in capturing a moment. Sometime images pop into my head, such as the image of myself twirling in my dress taken with my sprocket rocket. I thought of the idea one morning and decided to try it! Moments can be created, but some definitely cannot. You have to have an eye for what you think makes an interesting image. I always try and change it up a bit with cameras because capturing life in shots also really depends on what you use! However, luck and chance plays a major role in my photographs, especially when snapping a moment that will disappear in an instant. I love surprise and always try to have my camera ready.
What project are you working on at the moment or looking forward to undertaking?
Since August, I have had an idea of doing a Mad Hatter’s tea party photo shoot. People would be dressed up in eccentric outfits, given cameras, and the garden would be decorated with a long table decked out with a fancy cloth and colourful food. Unfortunately, this has yet to happen, but I really want to do this soon!! Also if any lomographers wish to do a film swap, I would love too. And lastly, I would really like to see a lomographic community develop in Victoria and be a part of it!
What are your plans for the fall?
I recently finished my Art History Honours degree and now am on the exciting journey as a graduate!! At this moment, I am interning at an art gallery and volunteering at Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria! However, next year I hope to work abroad, whether it’s in a youth hostel or at a heritage site, because I have always loved to travel. When you start travelling, which, for me, was when I was very small, you can never see enough places. Meeting new people and learning bout cultures are two things that entices me to travel more and more!!!
What’s the best shooting advice you can give to your fellow Lomographers?
Lomography is about experimenting and embracing the new. My advice, though this probably has already been said, is to try out as many cameras or films that you have a chance to use!! Having a new perspective in how you see the world will not only inspire you, but also, even if you don’t have a camera with you (what a thought!) you will start taking snapshots in your brain, which can be used for later projects. Lomography is all about how you view the world…what you find interesting about it! So go ahead and try a new film, capture objects in the environment that are usually missed, or give your camera to some else and let them shoot… creativity is all about pushing the boundaries.
Be sure to check out Ali’s photo project, an instant shot a day at her site snapshotali