Paris-based director and photographer takes the Belair and Belairgon halfway around the world and shares his experience.
A few months ago, we gave you a sneak peek into of Leo Berne’s best photographs in this article and got to know him through this interview. Aside from being a director for the creative team Megaforce, for which he has brought to life music videos for Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Is Tropical, Leo Berne is also a photographer who practices majority of his craft through analogue means. He has been using the Leica M6, Contax T3, Olympus µ2, Olympus Trip 35 and Polaroid Image Elite Pro and Holga for both personal and commissioned projects; and we knew we just had to let him try one of the premium cameras in the Lomography arsenal: the Belair X 6-12.
We caught up with Leo recently, and he shared his experience using the Belair and Belairgon lens.
Hi Leo, please update us on what you’ve been up to lately. Any recent or upcoming projects?
Hello, I just came back from a three- week holidays in Taipei. I did a fashion shoot there for a friend.
I am planning a new fashion shoot in Paris and preparing a short film.
What do you love best about being a director?
The best part is when everything you idealized takes shape, for real.
How does your job as a (music video) director complement your inclination towards photography?
For me, they’re both part of the same obsession to share my personal fascinations.
Where and when were you able to give the Belair and Belairgon a test drive?
I first tried the Belair on an afternoon off during a business trip in Dubai. Just had the time to do a couple of rolls.
It took me a bit of time to get the right reflexes, like checking the focus, the aperture, the ISO settings, wheeling correctly depending on which format you’re shooting.
Was it your first time to use a Lomography camera when you used the Belair and Belairgon lens or have you tried other Lomo Cameras?
I have a Holga.
What did you like most about the Belair and in what situations would you recommend it?
When using a Lomo camera, you have to accept its philosophy. You can’t control everything, there is a big part of the unknown and that’s what I like in it. You’re playing with chaos.
Sometimes the picture you expected to look good are disappointing and some you thought that you failed are just great.
I recently used the Belair to complement a Leica M6 in a fashion shoot in Taipei.
I think it has brought a lot to the series. I played with double exposure, light leaks, wide framing.
I used the Belairgon because I love using a tight lens on a very wide format, there’s something very cinematic, especially for portraits.
How was the experience? Anything difficult, memorable or extraordinary that happened ?
Framing a portrait with the Belairgon is a bit tricky because there’s a shift between what you see in the viewfinder and the actual picture. You have to keep that in mind. Also, the focus is very important and as it’s medium format and a 114mm lens, it’s pretty tricky to get it right. I actually used my Contax T3 to check the distance before shooting. Obviously, the Belairgon is quite challenging but the results are definitely worth it.
Tell us about the album of pictures you took.
My Friend Petshopsgirl Joe (instagram “Petshopsgirl”: http://instagram.com/petshopsgirl) is a fashion designer and owns pop up shops in Taipei and Tokyo that showcase incredible creations from very creative designers. When I proposed to her to do a shoot, she was very happy and took it very seriously, she got two great models Tequilas Shih (instagram tequilashih) and 李冠瑱 (instagram likuanzhen) and a great hair stylist Fion Lee (instagram fion777). We went for a post-apocalyptic location that fits well with the futuristic mood of the clothes. However, I think using film was crucial to bring some warmness and a human touch.
What advice can you give to other Lomographers out there?
When you wheel a lomography film in the camera, you can read “Don’t think, just shoot”. I would rather say “Do the right settings first, then don’t think just shoot” ;)