Recently I was contacted by Diana Mulvihill, a photography student at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. Diana was on her way to Egypt to do some work for a non-profit organization that helps children (and also wishes to remain anonymous for the purpose of this interview). Diana is trained as a documentary photographer and has worked for over a decade as a photojournalist. She had heard about her camera namesake, but had never shot with one. We thought it would be neat to see how the "Diana+":http://www.lomography.com/diana would hold up on a real photojournalism assignment, and hoped to capture some of the beauty and magic of this incredible destination. See Diana's Diana+ gallery below, and read an interview with this remarkable woman.
Recently I was contacted by Diana Mulvihill, a photography student at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. Diana was on her way to Egypt to do some work for a non-profit organization that helps children (and also wishes to remain anonymous for the purpose of this interview). Diana is trained as a documentary photographer and has worked for over a decade as a photojournalist. She had heard about her camera namesake, but had never shot with one. We thought it would be neat to see how the Diana+ would hold up on a real photojournalism assignment, and hoped to capture some of the beauty and magic of this incredible destination. See Diana’s Diana+ gallery below, and read an interview with this remarkable woman.
REAL NAME: diana mulvihill
CITY: los angeles
How long have you been a Lomographer (or are you knew to this whole thing)?
it’s a totally new thing to me – i barely had time to shoot a test roll before my plane left for egypt! but i have long admired photos taken with diana cameras – i just recently saw an amazing circus image from india shot with a diana in a collector’s house…
Was this your first trip to the Middle East or have you been to that part of the world before? Did you have any expectations, and if so, how did Egypt live up to them?
it was, in fact, my first trip to that part of the world, i don’t think i had too many ideas of what it would be like, but it still surprised me… nothing is ever how you imagine it will be when traveling, but that’s the best part!
i think i find, when i travel lately, that the places you hear about (in the case of egypt, pyramids and etc.) are so touristy, and i really just like finding as many locals as i can and just wander the streets in the smaller towns and parts of a country less traveled – those are always my best memories.
Tell us about the trip, your adventures, culture shocks, bold food experiences, bug encounters, or daring mummy escapes.
one great adventure was that i went on a great, 3-plus hour walk through the desert (at noon, of course!) with a german guy i met who lived in luxor. it’s crazy to go around at that time, because it’s so hot your hands swell up to twice their size! it worried me at first, but then i thought, if it’s not bothering the german guy, i probably won’t die, either. so, air-conditioned tour bus after air-conditioned tour bus passed us, but we got to the top of this hill and on the other side was a HUGE worker’s village (village where the people who built a pyramid or king’s tomb lived)… row after row of ancient little homes, and the guy was like, ‘there are so many ruins, the tour buses don’t even bother to stop here’. so it’s pretty amazing to see something so majestic and know that most people won’t even see it.
as far as food, i liked the baba ganoush and ate a lot of this great tomatoe soup with lime! and mango mango mango, they have it year-round, so i was all about the mango juice!
as far as mummies, i saw a mummified fish and cat! they were so cute, but the guard wouldn’t let me take photos (i showed him the Diana to try to look harmless, and explained there was no flash, but he still said no way)
How did the Diana+ handle all the adventure? And did having the camera with you affect your experience in any way?
the camera was great, i loved wandering the streets with it. i don’t speak arabic, but i did learn to say ’i’m a professional photographer’ and motion that i wanted to take a photo of people – people’s reaction to the diana was so much fun!!! they all laughed, and the ones who could speak a bit of english would express doubt that it was a camera that a professional photographer would use. i was like, ’you’re right, it’s better! look how small it is and how easily it fits in my bag!’ the small size and toy look of the diana immediately put people at ease and in a happy mood, and as a result i got great shots . . . although some people were shocked that there was no lcd in the back to see the photo!
Now that you’ve seen the Pyramids, where in the world would you like to travel next?
well, next month i’m going to take it chill and just visit some friends in portland and san francisco – my friend in sf is having a birthday, and she’s a photographer, too, and i love my Diana so much i’m going to get her one! it’s a great gift, since my name is diana, because my friends will always remember who gave it to them :) and because they’re so awesome in general… it is definitely going to be my travel camera of choice from now on. being a professional photographer, i rarely took photos in my free time for myself, but with the diana, it’s a much more creative and loose experience and i love it.
but, wow, if i could choose anywhere to travel… i really want to spend more time in south america, argentina, brazil, back to peru, which i loved… also, would love to see south africa… and morocco, the colors! yeah, south america and africa are on my mind lately …
If you could shoot portraits of any Pharaoh, dead or mummified, which would you choose?
i wouldn’t want to shoot a pharoah, i just want to shoot the mummified cat!!!!
What’s your best travel tip for someone thinking of trekking out to Egypt for some adventure?
go to the pyramids, but hire a 1 on 1 guide to take you there from cairo (the cost is about the same as going on your own)… it’s fun to meet and hang out with a local tour guide, as opposed to fighting off the touts on your own (if you’re with a guide, people won’t come up to you going ‘take a picture on my camel for $1’ every 5 seconds – the touts seem to respect the guides) . . .
also, yeah, do whatever you can to meet some locals, or just take a walk… respect the culture, even if you have to dress like a dork (as a woman, i had to cover my shoulders, arms, and wear pants or dresses below the knee) – it will help people respect you and be nice to you, and it’s just the right thing to do … if you are in cairo, try to stay on the island of zamalek, a pretty little tree-lined neighborhood on an island in the middle of the city…
You traveled to Egypt to do some work for a non-profit organization that helps children: tell us some ways that we can affect people’s lives that you think would make an important change. (and feel free to give us some addresses or links where we can get more information)…
of course, researching organizations that do work you believe in and donating whatever money you can is always a great idea. but you can do little things as well: instead of letting stuff you don’t use pile up and having a garage sale – or throwing it out – you can give those things to charity organizations. i give my stuff to vietnam veterans of america, and you can schedule pickups easily online at http://www.scheduleapickup.com … also, volunteering time is a great way to help, like taking an hour to read/do storytime for kids at a local hospital will make you feel soooo good and the kids, too.
(i personally love working with kids, so like being involved with nonprofits that deal with helping children).
there is a great new website called causecast.org that, from what i understand, is kind of a myspace based around charities and helping out with causes… i’m really looking forward to checking it out more. idealist is another great resource… or volunteermatch
one thing i’ve learned about volunteering: it’s true what they say, you do get more out of it than the people you help. it’s really, really good for the soul – i look back at snapshots people have taken of me while volunteering, and i have the biggest smile on my face!
even if you do just a small thing, the people you help are really appreciative and that makes you feel good, too.
What makes you smile, Diana? my friends, my family, music, sunny days, travel, meeting new people, and, of course, photography…
Do you have any advice for future Lomographers?
i do – make sure you compose loosely, or you’ll cut off people’s heads! but, more importantly, have fun with it and have no preconceptions – because the photos won’t be what you expected, but they will be wonderful, even better than what you expected (just like travel, really)