How discovering two vintage cameras launched me into an adventure that is Lomography. I've never looked back since!
While my first official Lomography camera is a Sprocket Rocket (which I will get to later) it wouldn’t have been with me if not for my grandfather’s analogue cameras.
I was facing a crossroad in my photographic interest late in 2010. I own a Canon 350D which I trusted faithfully, but it had occurred to me that I’d reached a point where I knew how the photos would turn out. I understand the aspects of photography enough to avoid rookie mistakes and surprises; plus, it seems that editing the pictures in Photoshop seemed like a necessary thing to, not to mention the thousands of shots you can get in one event, and the chimping, and the spaces taken up by hundreds of megabytes of files. Lenses and accessories cost thousands which is not practical for a student or non-professional like me. Photography became an unlikely chore, which is not the way it was supposed to be.
One day, while following my parents back to my hometown, I wandered into my grandfather’s room and curiously opened up one of the desk drawers. Amongst the familiar stench of moth balls and old furniture, I recognized something I encountered before in my childhood. It was a solid metallic object protected in a leather casing with the label “Seagull 203” emblazoned on top. The dials and film winder gave it away that it is a camera, but it doesn’t appear to have a lens in front. As I pressed one of the obscured buttons on top, the thing suddenly came into life — the front cover slowly folded out, followed by a shiny lens with its black leather bellow expanding behind. The whole mechanism is not unlike a sleeping giant who woke up after a long doze and giving itself a satisfying stretch; as I gazed in amazement, it appears to revel in the situation, satisfied to be out after being shelved for so long.
The camera is about 40-50 years old and had been closed for around 10 years. I remember playing with it while I was still a kid, and thankfully I didn’t damage it!
Further down the drawer, I saw another camera — this one appeared much more modern and recognizable — an Olympus Trip 35. It wasn’t in any casings but I tried the shutter and it worked. I brought both cameras to my dad and he agreed to drive us to the local camera shop and ask if they’re still working. The shopkeeper said that the Seagull’s lens was stuck and the film was not available any more, while the Olympus still can be used as it feeds on the common 135 film.
That day, I went back home with two analog cameras, not knowing what to expect. I mentioned them to my grandfather on a family dinner and even he did not recall having the Seagull until I brought it up. He was a reporter for the local town newsletter and had the Seagull first, but it proved to be too heavy which led to him subsequently investing in the compact Olympus. I had both cameras examined by my uncle who is a professional photographer. He checked them and said I could try using the Olympus first as it appeared fine, but took the Seagull to his trusted camera repair shop to fix the lens.