You've seen his face in the microsite galleries. He sorts through all your film lab rats tips, checking if they are nice & good enough to share with the community. He twiddles and clicks the cameras, checking each and every nook and cranny. Say hello to Mandi (Manfred Steininger) - Chief of the Film Lab Rats/Camera tester, Head of Department Photography and Archive (official version)!
You’ve seen his face in the microsite galleries. He sorts through all your film lab rats tips, checking if they are nice & good enough to share with the community. He twiddles and clicks the cameras, checking each and every nook and cranny. Say hello to Mandi (Manfred Steininger) – Chief of the Film Lab Rats/Camera tester, Head of Department Photography and Archive (official version)!
How did you get into Lomography?
I was a young student who desperately needed a job to pay the rent and living, as studies did not seem to go anywhere. On a quite uneventful Monday morning my flatmate told me that she will go to the Lomography Headquarters to apply for a job as she knows someone who works there. This sounded nice, I heard about Lomographers before and said “cool” (the only thing that I could say, still feeling dizzy after too many hours of sleep). When my flatmate asked me if I would like to join her I was a bit baffled. On the one hand I really needed the money, on the other hand I never thought about entering the brutal world of breadwinning. I stood there, looking least motivated but thought… “why not!?”
So we went to the LSI office and were brought to a person who was responsible for manpower. My flatmate gave her name and telephone nr. and got the information that she´d get a call in the next few days. As it was just some unskilled labour there was no job interview, I thought it´s all just going too easy and saw my chance to say “me too, please”. Two days later I got a call that I was needed in the archive. My job was pretty nice, producing lomo-curtains which meant that I was only working with pictures. I was fascinated from the very first moment and spent my first salary on a LCA. Step by step I stumbled up the ladder of success.
You test all the cameras, but do you get to keep them?
No… either they are samples which are not fully working yet or cameras I use just for testing and some rolls of sample shots. Sometimes they go back to where they came from, sometimes they stay in a locker in the archive… the only cameras I own personally and use often are: LCA, my modified Holga and a Voigtländer Bessa L which i bought after testing and having to give it back. There is also a box full of various cameras, but they are used just once in a while, like a Lubitel & Seagull TLR, Supersampler, Actionsampler, Pop9, Zorki 4, and some broken cams i bought on ebay…
This is probably the most-asked question in forums and online communities – what is the best Lomographic camera for a totally clueless newbie? We need your expert opinion!
The LC-A. If you follow some basic rules you will take great pictures and it´s a camera you will probably keep forever. Whatever camera I test, no matter how much it costs or how good the optics are, I always come back to the LC-A. It´s a perfect tool for me.
You’re going to a deserted island with only one camera and a roll of film. Which combo would it be?
A medium format pinhole camera + a roll of b&w film. If it is a deserted island there might be not much to shoot and by restricting myself I will have to think about it for a looooong time and I guess the point is that you are on this deserted island for a really long time. I would try to compose and shoot 12 perfect shots, maybe 1 per month.
What’s the funniest thing that happened to you while camera-testing?
There are many small funny things happening, like meeting other lomographers by coincidence or people who are interested in the camera. Or totally crazy people who talk to you ´cause you act like a lunatic too. Sometimes people jump into the picture and pose, but these are rare situations, unfortunately. I also like to be a bit provocative when a photographer is setting up his camera on a tripod… then I just run by right in front of his nose and take some cool hipshots.
What I liked most was testing the Widepan 617. I went through the first district in Vienna which was stuffed with tourists and all kind of people and whenever I thought I had found the perfect spot to take a picture, I put the case down, opened it and took out the Widepan. People immediately started to look what was going on there. I felt like a clown with a camera that has somewhat distorted dimensions, it was so much fun to just pose and show off and watch the people staring at me while pretending to take a picture.
OK, enough about the cameras. What would be a perfect day for you?
A day on the beach without thinking about yesterday or tomorrow.
What’s on your current wishlist?
Apart from world domination or peace on earth? See question 7. :) But I´d like to have more than just one day… give me a month and i am more than happy!
Any good music/book/food/movie that you’d like to recommend?
“The Hitch-hiker´s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams, this book accompanied my life for a long time and it contains as much wisdom as humour.
“Huun Huur Tu”, traditional music from Tuva which is really fascinating because of their throat singing. But there is so much good music out there… maybe just some name dropping to define my field of interest:
Bulgarian Women´s Choir – Eric Satie – Blockhead – ODB – Fennesz – Sunn O))) – Isis – Meshuggah – Bohren& der Club Of Gore – Fink – Fat Freddy´s Drop – Kyuss – Björk – PJ Harvey – Roots Manuva – Ween – Crowbar – Plastikman
Final words or tips to our growing Lomo community?
Respect other people, be honest, live analogue and lomo on!