A Quick Chat With Dreamscape Photographer and Ladytron's Reuben Wu


When he's not creating mixes for his band Ladytron, Reuben Wu experiments with different films and cameras to create stunning dreamscapes out of natural scenery. Read on and learn more about him and his artistic process after the jump.

Just a week ago, we gave you a glimpse of Reuben Wu’s dreamscape photographs. Not only have we got more of his captivating images, but we also got in touch with him for a quick chat. Here’s what he has to say.

Hi, Reuben! We’d like to thank you for finding the time for this interview! We’re excited to feature you again on the magazine. You may get this question in a lot on interviews but still we’d like to ask: how and when did you start shooting on film?

Well, I grew up with film cameras. I was never passionate about photography as a child – I was more into drawing. It was more natural to put pencil to paper than put light through a lens onto film, finish the film and develop the film. So it was something I learned to love once I realized the potential of using film in cameras.

What makes analogue photography special for you? Is there anything specific about shooting on film that makes it particularly stand out?

As far as images go, I think any photograph has to stand up regardless of what medium is was made with. But for me, using a camera with film in it mentally prepares me for the task ahead. The weight of a camera, the mechanics, the finite number of exposures available and the physicalness of what you take away with you is really important to me and helps me edit my photographs better. Almost as if the physical weight of the equipment allows me to truly appreciate the things and places I decide to take a picture of.

Being part of Ladytron, do you think that music intersects with your photography? Or does it go the other way around?

I have kept the two things quite separate until quite recently but there are some interesting parallels in my processes. Firstly, although I use a lot of old electrical and analogue musical equipment, it is incorporated with digital techniques to create something we couldn’t create so easily in a purely analogue world. This is similar to the way I do pictures. Modern ink jet printing, negative drum scanning and digital color correction are major factors in my post-production and are a leap ahead of what is possible in a darkroom in terms of how I envision the presentation of my work.

Secondly, and more to do with the conception, is that composing a picture is like composing a song. It is implicit. It can mean different things to different people, although the meaning for me is quite specific.

We see that you’re pretty much always on the road for your tours and projects. How does photography come in contact with your travels? What kind of places do you have in mind for your next travels?

I used to travel ahead of the group to our tour destinations and spend a week or two exploring and photographing, or I would have a DJ gig booked somewhere and I would take the opportunity to book travel a few days either side and see the place properly. It was a great way to see the world after having been carted around different cities and only getting to look around for a few hours before leaving again. I normally travel quite light (non-photo stuff) but my gear is quite heavy, and tends to double the weight of everything but at least it reminds what I’m doing.

Your travel photos, particularly those shot in Svalbard have a dreamscape feel to them. Are there any specific techniques that you used to create those shots? Can you share it to our readers?

I’m afraid there’s no technique for that other than having a Polaroid camera in my jacket. Svalbard is one huge dreamscape!

I took a Polaroid SLR 680 and a Polaroid 195, as well as my work horse the Mamiya RZ67. It was so cold that the film would not have developed unless it was inside my jacket. We were traveling by snowmobile so pulling Polaroids, storing them, changing film, lenses, cameras, all without dropping anything, was hard work. The film was all expired so they had a hard time developing anyway, but they portray my vision and memory of the place perfectly.

Do you have personal rules that you apply to your own work? Please share them with our readers.

It sounds obvious, but one of my friends and a talented photographer told me once it is always about the picture, and nothing else, regardless of camera or film. I try to keep that in mind when I am shooting on Polaroid or using interesting film types or cameras. It’s very easy to get trapped inside the nuances of your medium, and for a while it educates, but then you need to break your orbit.

What is your take on photography as an art?

I think it happens when you have developed your own style of expressing vision, whilst embracing what a photograph is and what it isn’t.

Which artists inspire you in your work? Any artists that we should follow?

Old favourites are Chris Foss, who made a lot of the cover designs for Asimov’s books, graphic artist Moebius, Landscape painters Caspar David Friedrich & Frederic Edwin Church. James Turrell and Charles Ross. My comic artist friend Jamie McKelvie and the painter Samantha Keely Smith. Photographers? Guy Bourdin.

Given the chance to collaborate with any artist or photographer, living or dead, who would it be? Why?

Tarkovsky or Kubrick or Herzog because there would be so much to learn from them.

We noticed that you also use a Holga camera. How’s your experience with the camera? What’s your favorite thing about it?

I started out using it in a quite haphazard way; cross-processing slide film and all that, but then I started to experiment with black and white infrared film, a Hoya R72 filter jammed over the lens, a tripod and a remote release. In broad daylight it’s around 1 second exposure and the results are quite magical.

Do you have a special film and camera combo that you use or prefer? What are those?

I’ve had some Kodak Aerochrome in 4×5 in storage for about a year which I want to load into my Aero-Ektar/Speed Graphic and I can’t wait to shoot some portraits with it. I just need to find someone to take photos of.

Any tips for shutterbugs trying to find their style in photography?

Trust your own instincts over others’. Be yourself and no one else.

Do you have any other works that you’d like to promote?

My next exhibition “Distant Suns” is opening at Schneider Gallery in Chicago on Jan 10 and is showing until Feb 22. I’ll be showing 8 of my favorite photographs from my travels. I’ll be there in person if anyone wants to come and chat. I’ll also be doing an artist talk at Latitude in Chicago, the digital lab where I produced my show on Jan 14th.

Last words for our readers?

Stay weird.

Thank you very much for this opportunity to talk with you!


You can check out more of his work on his site and Tumblr.

All images used in this article were sourced from Reuben Wu.

written by cheeo on 2013-12-05 in #people #lifestyle #reuben-wu #landscape #surreal


  1. adi_totp
    adi_totp ·

    great interview! I really enjoy it!

  2. hervinsyah
    hervinsyah ·

    This guy is absolutely more great than his bandmate, Lomo Amigo Mira Arroyo

  3. cheeo
    cheeo ·

    @adi_totp glad you liked it! I had a great time writing about Reuben and his works.

  4. superlighter
    superlighter ·

    cool interview!

  5. holgardo
    holgardo ·

    Cool interview. Great images.

  6. cheeo
    cheeo ·

    @superlighter @holgardo thanks! He's real cool, too.

  7. bloomchen
    bloomchen ·

    awesome photographs!!! until reading it and checking his flickr account i thought on top of my list is iceland. but i think this changed now. it went down on #2 and svalbard is on top now. thanks for sharing this!!! i'm really impressed.

  8. bloomchen
    bloomchen ·

    there is only one bad thing about it: i guess i need the xpan cam to get the most impressive pics. but if i'd buy one there would be no money left for the trip.

  9. cheeo
    cheeo ·

    @bloomchen it's nice to know that you're also planning to go on a trip. show us your photos when you get back from Svalbard :D Guess it's time to ask people to pool up for that trip, huh?

  10. bloomchen
    bloomchen ·

    hehe, this will take time. 2014 is already booked. family trip and world championships in italy so there is no way to do the trip next year if i don't win the lottery. but i have to start playing then i guess.

More Interesting Articles

  • LomoAmigo Reuben Wu Shoots with the Lomo LC-A+ RL

    written by Jill Tan Radovan on 2014-10-18 in #people #lomoamigos
    LomoAmigo Reuben Wu Shoots with the Lomo LC-A+ RL

    Reuben Wu fascinates, both with his splendid photographs and the music he churns out for electronic band Ladytron, or when he's doing a solo gig as a DJ. He's also one heck of a nice guy, who, despite being ultra-talented, has been gracious enough to grant another interview and share more of his amazing photos,which were taken with the Lomo LC-A+ with Russian lens.

  • An Interview with Photographer Stephen Takacs

    written by chooolss on 2014-06-04 in #lifestyle
    An Interview with Photographer Stephen Takacs

    Exactly one month ago, we featured a fascinating project called "Brownie in Motion" by Columbus, Ohio-based photographer Stephen Takacs. We've recently had an interview with the man himself, in which he discusses in great detail not only his "dream project" but also his other works in various photographic processes including the ambrotype, tintype, and platinum palladium! Read our exclusive chat and take a look at his awesome work after the jump!

  • Exquisitely Gloomy Black and Whites by Cody Thomas

    written by cheeo on 2014-06-05 in #lifestyle
    Exquisitely Gloomy Black and Whites by Cody Thomas

    Sometimes, experiments and curiosity yield the best results. This is what photographer Cody Thomas discovered when he tried out black and white film photography with his Holga camera. See more of his black and white photos after the jump.

  • Shop News

    Diana Mini Flash Bundle

    Diana Mini Flash Bundle

    Ready to dive into the world of Lomography? This Bundle will provide you with all that you need: a Diana Mini, a Diana flash, a flash adaptor and you're ready good to go!

  • The Photography of Picasso on Exhibit in NYC

    written by chooolss on 2014-11-10 in #news
    The Photography of Picasso on Exhibit in NYC

    Celebrated artist Pablo Picasso had his brush with photography when he was still alive, both in front of the camera and behind it. Find out the details of an ongoing exhibit featuring his photographic work after the jump.

  • Cyanotype Photography with Petzval Amigo Chris Pollard

    written by hannah_brown on 2015-04-09 in #people #news
    Cyanotype Photography with Petzval Amigo Chris Pollard

    A few months ago we lent photographer Chris Pollard a Petzval lens to test out. Since then he has been experimenting with different cameras and in different settings. He tried out some cyanotype prints with this lens and chatted to us about the results. Read on for the full interview.

  • Storytelling with Petzvals: Alex Timmermans and the Art of Collodion

    written by jacobs on 2015-04-03 in #people #lifestyle
    Storytelling with Petzvals: Alex Timmermans and the Art of Collodion

    Not long after Alex Timmermans purchased his first digital camera at the turn of the century, he quickly realized the trappings of digital photography couldn't fulfill his personal photographic desires. He then began searching for a more challenging process — one that wasn't so predictable. His journey eventually landed him back at the roots of analogue photography, specifically employing the wet plate collodion process using original Petzval lenses. This antique photographic process found in him a renewed inspiration and has since become his passion, which is evident in both his words and his images.

  • Shop News

    Horizon and DigitaLIZA Bundle

    Horizon and DigitaLIZA Bundle

    The Horizon and DigitaLIZA Bundle lets you mix and match your favorite Horizon Camera, Lomography 35mm film and DigitaLIZA 35mm

  • Petzval Artist: Natural Photography Series and Interview with Alexandra Sophie

    written by mariemcnaan on 2014-06-20 in #people #lomoamigos
    Petzval Artist: Natural Photography Series and Interview with Alexandra Sophie

    Alexandra Sophie is a young self-taught fashion and illustration photographer who has already amassed a huge online following. She agreed to test the Petzval artistic lens and used it to create delicate and beautiful nature-themed images. See her work and learn about her photography philosophy after the jump.

  • Mashable Reviews The Lomo'Instant Camera

    written by shhquiet on 2015-03-04 in #gear #reviews
    Mashable Reviews The Lomo'Instant Camera

    Raymond Wong of Mashable got his hands on the Lomo'Instant Camera. He experimented with Light Painting, Filtered Flash, and also dabbled with the lenses. Find out about the verdict after the jump!

  • Meet Christopher Logan, Lomography's Special Correspondent for NY Fashion Week

    written by antoniocastello on 2014-09-18 in #people #lomoamigos
    Meet Christopher Logan, Lomography's Special Correspondent for NY Fashion Week

    Being a part of Fashion Week is not easy. You need to know high-profile personalities and e-mail tons of guys to be on the Fashion Week A-list. So when Christopher came to Lomography with the idea of being our official Fashion Week correspondent (and after showing us his stunning fashion portfolio), we were very excited to work with him.

  • Shop News

    Colorsplash your World!

    Colorsplash your World!

    At 30% off you can now color your analog images with 12 different color gels. Experiment with 35mm slide film and play with the built-in color flash for the most intense colors!

  • Skate Photographer Joe Brook Shoots with the Petzval Lens

    written by antoniocastello on 2015-02-06 in #people #lomoamigos
    Skate Photographer Joe Brook Shoots with the Petzval Lens

    Joe Brook is one of the most popular photographers in the West Coast skate scene, shooting for magazines like Trasher, Juxtapoz, Rolling Stone, and different outlets such as PDN and Kodak. Having previous experience with an old Petzval lens mounted on a 4x5 camera, it was but natural for him to try the new one. Brook talks about finding himself, his work, and shooting with the Lomograhy Petzval Lens in this exclusive interview.

  • Film Experiments: In The Dark - The True Analogue Experiment

    written by mikekumagai on 2014-08-05 in #gear #tipster
    Film Experiments: In The Dark - The True Analogue Experiment

    Throwing chemicals, fire, and scratching emulsion are just a few ways of experimenting with film. But there's another process that completely destroys it (or, if you're lucky, creates something amazing), that is as spastic as a drunken man staggering his way home after a night at the pub - literally. And it all comes down to darkness.

  • Nothing Happens on Color Film: Street Life in Como As Seen From the Bus

    written by sirio174 on 2014-06-27 in #lifestyle
    Nothing Happens on Color Film: Street Life in Como As Seen From the Bus

    Some weeks ago, I made a tribute to the great photographer Robert Frank and his 1958 black and white series taken in New York from a bus window. He is the master of the ordinary moments, capturing the essence of daily life in a series of free and random sequence of photos where nothing important happens! And as I've written there I wanted to take a similar experiment with color film, which would change the perception of the environment where people live. Read more after the jump!