Get to know Christophe Dillinger! Lomography community member and one of the Square Magazine founders who is bringing you the "Year in Square” competition you can now submit to! Read about his love of the square format, photographic inspiration and what it will take to be in the "Year in Square" printed edition!
Name: Christophe Dillinger
Country: Great Britain
Will you tell the community a little bit about yourself? What do you do for a living and is it what you do for fun too?
Well, I don’t do anything for a living anymore. I was a photography lecturer, but I decided to pack it up and concentrate on a Masters in fine art this year. So I am broke, but I have loads of time to do what I want to do. And when I am not reading or preparing films, I spend hours banging away to the tunes in my mp3 player, on an electronic drum kit I just bought. I am sure I would have a proper drummer shaking their head in disbelief, but I don’t care if I’m doing it all wrong, it’s so much fun.
How long have you been a Lomographer or are you new to this whole thing.
I have been a Lomographer for a while, using loads of different cameras. I have a Holga, a Seagull, a Diana, a LCA, a fisheye camera and now a Diana Mini. Mostly I find it refreshing to just take a picture and not worry too much about the technical bits. As a photography lecturer, I have seen a lot of very polished images, but they are very often pretty boring. I like the spontaneity of Lomography. I really like my new Diana Mini, I had been looking for a small 24×36 camera that would shoot in square format for quite a while. And of course I love the fact that you can’t see straight away what you’ve just taken.
Tell us about Square Magazine . What inspired you to start it and what is it about the square format that has captured your attention so?
I organized an exhibition at the back of a lorry some time ago, with my students. Because we all wanted it to be nice and clean, we decided to do it in square format. Then I carried on with a Square exhibition in Grenoble, France. When I realized that there wasn’t anything dedicated to this wonderful format, I decided to start Square Magazine, it seemed a natural progression to me. And it is open to anyone: check out the work of a couple of our first contributors, Cécile Schuhmann and Deborah Parkin. As to why I like the square format, I don’t really know… I find the square to be an elegant thing. It’s symmetrical, nearly round, and totally film oriented (there isn’t a lot of digital cameras working in square around).
In your own words, what are you looking to convey with the “A Year in Square” edition of your magazine and what do you hope to achieve?
I guess the main thing is to show that documentary photography can be fun and personal. And square. I’d also like contributors to think about what they have done during the year. The good bits and the bits that were not so good too. I’d like them to reflect on their achievements, to share them and to think about the future: what they are going to do next year, what did they learn, what are they hoping to do. I’d like them to tell us why they are sending the images: what do they mean to them?
So it’s going to be both serious and fun.
What are you looking for when you go to take a shot and what do you hope to achieve through your own photography?
I like to experiment with film. I prepare them and then I set up a portrait session say, or I go to a specific place I’ve noticed, to see how the film behaves. Otherwise I regularly take random pictures of absolutely anything and anyplace. I keep the negatives in big folders and I review them regularly. Then I pick one and type on it. I do that either to create beautiful images (well, I find them beautiful eh eh) that stand on their own, or to pass across a message. I guess the best way to see what I mean would be to have a look at what I do.
Describe the Diana Mini in five words.
Small. FUN. Colours. Square!
Did I say fun?
The strangest, funniest, or hands-down greatest photographic/Lomographic encounter that you have ever had?
To the risk of sounding a bit arrogant and to appear to blow my own trumpet, I’d say it was during my first photography fair, an event called Révélation 3, in Paris last year. It was the first time I showed my work to members of the public in France. It was absolutely fantastic to have people comment on my stuff, telling me what they liked and didn’t like, exchanging ideas. There I sold a few photos to a young couple and the lady said to me: “it is the first time I buy a piece of art”. I was really chuffed by that. It was a good feeling to have made people happy through my photographic work.
What is your favorite location to shoot in the whole world and why?
That would be Paris. I love this city. It is so friendly and bursting with activity that there’s always something happening to take a picture of. You also feel much freer to shoot than in London, say, where people regard photographers with suspicion.
What else is on the agenda for Square Magazine and do you have any other projects you are working on these days?
The next issue will figure an interview by the band Ladytron and we’re working on bringing a few celebrity square photographers into the fold. We’re also planning on gathering enough funding to start putting together Square exhibitions across Europe. As to my own projects, well, I need to concentrate on my studies; it’s going to take most of my time. I am also trying to find a way to adapt the technique of the Swirls series to movie making… not easy…
Your advice to future Diana Mini shooters is…
Show it off! When you go out and you meet other photographers, with their expensive digital kits, show them your little toy, with no settings to speak of. Give it to them; encourage them to take a few pictures. It may seem strange, but I think that the fact that they’ll probably never see the pictures they just took is a great gift to make. Not knowing is one of the joys of photography, something that is rapidly being lost.
Your advice to Lomographers submitting to the “Year in Square” edition of Square Magazine is…
Go for it! The world doesn’t belong only to people with expensive cameras. It can also be blurry, vignetted and have exploding colours! We are all individuals and we are all moving the world in some way. Your life is just as important to the good running of the world than the lives of politicians or celebrities, so show it off! :)