Your average story of a refugee from the digital world, discovering wonderful sites and occasions around her with some thanks to photons being captured on some film.
This may sound cliché, but Lomography is continually influencing me to live my life to a fuller extent. Like many of us, I was once a slave to my digital camera, hiding behind it as I took hundreds of dull pictures of the same thing. Pictures that somehow never turned out the way I wanted, despite all those fancy settings. Pictures that I rarely felt like looking at afterward and I definitely was not interested in sharing with anyone.
I started to notice how uninspired digital photography was to me when I studied abroad a few years ago. Even though my camera was brand new and small, it seemed troublesome to take it with me somewhere. And when I did, it seemed like the battery was always on the verge of dying, so I was constantly rationing battery power by trying to select my shots carefully. I was in one of the most beautiful places in the world, Utrecht in the Netherlands, but I did not feel particularly compelled to photograph it much. It seemed like most buildings or sites that I would want to remember were easily available in photo form online anyway.
Other exchange students were constantly uploading pictures to Facebook, while I did not really feel like it was necessary. Most of the pictures were not that good and really only seemed interesting to the people who either took them or tagged in them. I did not feel any need to share any of the pictures that I took, because they did not feel worth sharing.
Flash forward about a year, which involved dwindling interest in digital photography. I was hanging out with a friend who I had known for a while, when one day she pulled out this plastic toy camera, a Holga 135 BC. I had seen nothing like it before and immediately knew I needed something like that. I was so shocked to learn that there are relatively cheap analogue cameras out there. She launched my journey into Lomography by helping me buy my own Holga and some film.
Immediately, I noticed a difference in my life. Suddenly, I wanted to go places and do things, whether they be interesting or mundane, so I could take pictures. For example, every other year my family goes on vacation in the White Mountains. The town we go to does not have much there, but we always try to go to this mini golf place. A few years ago, I skipped out on the mini golf, but last time I went because I realized it was a photography opportunity. My current top photograph is from that day!
More and more, I am finding myself thinking of different activities for my friends and family to do that would make for great photos. Sometimes it is a bit calculated, but other times it is more spontaneous. Recently, I was driving with my parents when I randomly suggested we drive to Nubble Light in York, Maine. That is a lighthouse that we have probably visited fifty times, but never in early spring before. We drove up there to find the clearest skies we had ever seen and really lovely blue-green water. I was glad for such great conditions for photographing and I think my parents were glad to view the lighthouse in a new way.
Through Lomography, I’ve been introduced to a few friends. And lately, I’ve been able to introduce a few friends to Lomography. With doubles, I have been able to blend images together with near strangers in other parts of the globe, which is really awesome. Doubles is really one of the most excellent ideas that anyone has ever had, but that is a whole other existential discussion! And people on the site have been inspiring me all of the time. I saw an album of an abandoned pool by dabai the other day, which gave me the idea to find a swimming pool in the area. Months ago, who would have thought I would be searching for an abandoned pool to create art?
It’s funny that I took a few thousand pictures digitally and only a several hundred pictures with analogue cameras, but the analogue ones have so much more meaning to them. And my pictures still sometimes don’t turn out the way I want them to, but sometimes they turn out better. To some extent, I have gotten my parents and some other relatives involved. My parents taught me how to use their Pentax ME Super, which they seem to be happy about it being used again. My grandmother, who never converted to digital, and I have given each other film when one of us has run out. And now I know my grandmother’s favorite film type, good old Fuji Superia 400, which is a fact about her I never would have learned otherwise. She has loved photography her whole life and worked in a Ritz Camera store for a few decades, so I feel happy to carry on an analogue legacy.
And now the inevitable cheesy but totally truthful closing thoughts. Lomography creates discussions. It starts ideas. It forms friendships. It inspires adventures. But most importantly, Lomography teaches us to appreciate the world around us, as we capture it, one photo at a time.