While some of us found a whole new world in film photography and Lomography, one of our newest members rekindled his interest in film snapshots after years of shooting digital. Read about adam_g2000's analogue rediscovery in this new installment of First Impressions!
This installment of First Impressions is full of interesting insights from Adam Griffiths (adam_g2000), an English web designer/developer living in New Zealand with his wife and family. Adam, who joined the Lomography Community in October of this year, says he had gone analogue again after 8 or 9 years, just as he was losing interest in digital photography.
“I had gotten very bored with Digital Photography,” he said. “I had a digital SLR purely as a hobby and took lots of photos of the kids when they were babies. I’d load them up into the computer, and never look at them again. They were endless shots of the same thing.”
For someone who loves photography and always had a camera with him, Adam found digital photography unrewarding. “In retrospect, I think that because there is no punishment for a bad shot, and you know you can delete it immediately if it’s rubbish, I got lazy, stopped playing around, stopped being imaginative. That killed my passion for it (photography).”
We asked Adam to tell us something about his analogue firsts, both before and during his discovery of Lomography. Without further ado, Adam, the floor is yours!
1. How did you discover Lomography (or rediscover analogue photography)?
Discovering Lomography was a breath of fresh air. I was looking through the gift shop at the wonderful Auckland Art Gallery when I came across a shelf full of Lomography cameras. The packaging was beautiful (I am a sucker for a posh box), covered in great shots of creative looking photos, all sorts of interesting effects, and animated people. These were like real versions of the poor shots I’d been taking recently with an app on my mobile phone.
One camera in particular leapt out at me, she was beautiful, statuesque, stark hard edges on her body, with a curvaceous, silver, shiny flash. She even had a lovely name: Diana. I was smitten; I had to have one.
2. What was your first Lomographic/analogue camera?
I’m a child of the 70’s, grew up in the 80’s. My first camera was a hand-me-down Kodak Instamatic, of course! When I wasn’t collecting scented erasers, swapping scratch and sniff stickers, or playing with Transformers, I took snapshots of School Trips, Rubik’s cubes, and Lambourghini Countachs. I loved it, it helped to keep memories. If only I still had the photos.
The one I really count as my first analogue camera was Grandpa Frank’s Praktica LTL. Although it spent the last ten years in a box, I now use it and the range of lenses I have with 28mm, 50mm, 110mm. I’ve always loved that the prime lenses it has can take amazing images in very low light without very high ISO films. I love that I set everything manually and I love the light meter, still working since the 60s/70s when it was made. I am in complete control – a contrast to my first Lomographic cameras.
My first Lomographic Cameras were the Diana F+ and Fischers Fritz La Sardina. When I got back from the Museum I found the website, and in turn, the community; what an amazing thing! Like a social network with a real purpose.
I love the simplicity of La Sardina, in a blog article I wrote, with its minimal controls I likened it to an Action Hero, always ready to go, the epitome of Rule 7: Be Fast. With La Sardina you really can. Diana, I find a harsh mistress, a challenge, I’m always forgetting to set something, focus, aperture, but this leads to some great ‘happy mistakes’.
3. Can you share with us five (5) of your first best photos taken using your first film camera?
I wish I could, but everything I shot with the Instamatic is long gone, left in the UK when I moved to New Zealand ten years ago. So, I’ll share 5 from my Praktica and first Lomography acquisitions.
Whilst waiting for Diana and La Sardina to arrive, I read about x-pro, and ran out and loaded up the Praktica with Sensia 100. When I got the photos back, I was amazed.
I love taking shots of plants and flowers, they are a work of art in themselves, yet so fleeting, I can capture them forever with a camera.
My first trip out with Diana was the Auckland Winter Gardens, one of my favourite places in the world – it’s where I asked my wife to marry me. This picture captured everything I hoped I could with Lomography, one of my favourite places looking as magical as if it were in Narnia:
Finally, I took this shot of my kids using the La Sardina with me lying down as they played with water in the garden. It’s random, happy, and I couldn’t imagine getting wet trousers with any other camera.
4. What about five (5) of your first least favorite photos from your first film camera?
That’s a hard question, those that don’t cut the mustard don’t go on the site. But if I had to choose…
The first photo is an odd one, I nearly put it in the trash, it feels flat and lifeless, hard to see what’s going on, all monotone. Yet, it was hand picked for the home page of the site; then, the likes came pouring in! I believe this is one of the things that makes Lomography so interesting, you never know what the community is going to think of what you’ve done, and everyone is so supportive. The second photo is underexposed and uninteresting! The reality was more intense than I captured and when that happens, which is rare, it’s disappointing.
In the first photo, it feels like there is no meaning, nothing going on. The second one is just plain boring. The third is kind of predictable, not original but even so Diana gives the girls an aura of beauty that real life didn’t have.
5. What was the first lesson you learned from Lomography/analogue photography?
To relinquish control. I am a bit of a control freak and the Prakitca encourages that in me, and I overthink things. With the Lomography cameras I’ve now collected, especially La Sardina, I have to just let the camera get on with it. Some of the best results I’ve had have just been when I relinquished control and rolled around on the floor, or tried shooting from the hip.
I like nothing less than boring staged ‘cheese’ photos of people and the shots I now have of the kids playing are some of the most favorite photos I’ve ever taken. So go for it, and don’t be scared to shoot from the hip.
6. What was the first obstacle you faced while shooting film?
This time around? Loading and unloading 120 format film. I’m now fluid at it but to start with I was l getting more light leaks than I cared for, licking paper that was actually a sticker, trying to peel off non-existent backing on paper that was supposed to be licked.
I’m glad I persevered though, I adore the detail, the square shots, the freedom that comes from only having 12 shots on a roll. I wouldn’t be without a 120 camera at all times.
7. Was there a specific technique or style you wanted to achieve with your first film camera? Was it successful or not?
Cross-processing. I was fascinated by it, all the bluey, yellowy, greenyness of it all. The heavy contrasts. Imagine how shocked I was when it turned out pinky red! I didn’t know the one type of film I’d chosen was known for going red. In a way, you could call it unsuccessful, but the photos I’d taken were all of flowers in the red colour range so they exploded on the film. They are still some of my favourite shots and I think always will be.
8. Lastly, what would you advise someone who plans to shoot with a film camera for the first time?
Firstly, unlike many internet communities, the Lomography community is here to help. Want to know how someone achieved a shot? Ask. Don’t be afraid. Everyone here is giving, sharing and inclusive. Secondly, what you are about to do is a world away from digital photography. It’s going to be exciting, unusual, unpredictable, and exhilarating. Choose a camera that is totally different from anything you are used to, choose a film that’s going to misbehave, something expired, something vivid-coloured. That way, you’ll have no expectations beyond the unexpected and you will relish the bizarre, amazing, other-worldly images you make.
And on that note I’ll leave you with an example, my most liked photo, and one of my favourites. You could never do this with a digital camera without spending hours in Photoshop. It’s my very first shot with my Holga.
We hope you got inspired and learned something from our lengthy chat with Adam! Stay tuned for more installments for the First Impressions series in the coming weeks!