Carlos Somonte and his Affair with the Diana

Carlos Somonte is an award-winning and prolific photographer whose experience spans over three decades of personal and professional work. Aside from photos that have been used in various advertising campaigns by some of the world’s most recognized advertising firms, he has done work for publications, and even film and theater. Mr. Somonte has worked with the likes of directors Alfonso and Jonas Cuaron, and producer Cameron Mackintosh. He has photographed the stills from their productions and his photos have appeared on numerous publicity posters.

Photo by Carlos Somonte

While many may be quite familiar with Somonte’s commercial, editorial, and documentary work, not too many are aware of his fondness for a particular camera – the Diana, mother of Lomography’s Diana F+.

In 1986, the Mexican photographer was blessed with the opportunity to attend sponsored workshops in Rockport, Maine after winning First Prize in Black and White Portfolio in the Nikon Awards. He went under the tutelage of Joyce Tennyson for fashion and Alon Reinenger for documentary photography. It was while in Maine that Somonte encountered the Diana camera in a street market selling different photographic devices. He bought the camera for $3.

Somonte claims that the Diana coincided well with his photographic approach at the time, which he attributes to Mexico’s photographic tradition. According to him, Mexican photography back then was known for its purist approach to the medium, leaving no room for “radical film processs” and “visual experiments.”

Somonte’s aesthetic developed when he took up formal studies in London. It was a time when the Punk movement played a huge influence on media, an influence that was apparent in magazines such as The Face, ID, The Fred, and more. However different, these ideas inspired Somonte, and helped shape what would become his photographic style.

Katherine Smoking from Somonte’s first roll shot with the Diana. Photo by Carlos Somonte

Somonte now has the Diana F+, along with lenses and accessories as part of his photographic arsenal. His fondness is evident as he recalls the immediate attraction he felt when he acquired his first Diana.

“At first glance I was seduced with the obvious crashing worlds reunited in the camera: a plastic optic that requires medium format film.”

“In my own terms DIANA was perfect. I bought it for three dollars, put on a 120 film and start shooting, right there in Rockport. I did portraits of my new friends, documented local tourism, etc. I was aware that this oneiric, dreamy, uneven sometimes, extremely focused at certain parts was a jewel with an outstanding future.”

Photo by Carlos Somonte

Somonte expounds further and shares why he prefers the camera.

“It was clear for me that this camera was fantastic. It was so unique that any subject matter could be registered with it. The camera by itself doesn’t permit a bad image. Anyone familiar with a formal photographic education is aware on the statement of including in the image the presence of the full frame…it obliges you to compose in the precise moment of the shot.”

“Diana became my allied weapon, full of contradictions, a camera that is designed for accidents, good accidents, merciless. Either it works or sucks…radical. My secret weapon to keep on provoking boring and absurd statements…formality…the camera was medium format, stating complete negative with a plastic optic. Hurray!!!”

Photo by Carlos Somonte

Obviously, Somonte is one big Diana fan. Even as he has become one prolific photographer, Somonte’s love for the Diana is unfaltering. His passion for the Diana –and now the Diana F+–is evident in how he speaks of the medium-format beauty.

See more of Carlos Somonte’s work on his website.

The Diana F+ is a new twist on the ‘60s classic cult camera. Famous for its dreamy and soft-focused images, the Diana F+ is now packed with extra features such as panorama and pinhole capabilities. Available in our Online Shop.

written by jillytanrad on 2014-05-18 in #lifestyle

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