I’m always on the lookout for something different, something unique. That’s why I chose analogue photography in the first place; to veer away from conventionality. The same goes for my taste in music. Read on to find out more on the connection between Lomography and heavy metal music from my point of view.
Over the years Lomography has evolved to becoming a worldwide phenomenon. Lomography products and other film-related merchandise are sprouting everywhere like mushrooms after the rain, being sold at a multitude of lifestyle stores and online shops. Not to mention coverage in all sorts of printed and electronic media. Nowadays it is not an uncommon sight to see youngsters with colourful toy cameras hung on their necks as opposed to big bulky DSLRs. While we want to spread the Lomo love around, the transition from an underground movement to a mainstream trend comes with a price.
With the increasing number of analogue enthusiasts here in Malaysia, I have to say that most of the interesting subjects around Kuala Lumpur and its vicinity have been photographed more or less by fellow local Lomographers. Basically we have the same theme or matter shot only by different persons at different angles. I was at a loss, having difficulty and lacking inspiration to produce new work. I call it a Lomographer’s Block. Then it struck me; since I always have a soft spot for hard rockin’ music, why not shoot during gigs? Previously bound by strict parenting rules (for my own good of course) and busy work schedules, I am now living independently as a working man. With nothing in my way, I found a new purpose in my Lomographic pursuits. Apart from my preference in listening to edgier and grittier versions of music, the sonic assault of metal (and its subgenres) provides me with such unadulterated raw energy to be captured on 35mm film. I love shooting the intense capacity crowd and the powerful emotions expressed by the band members. Much more satisfying than taking pictures of calmer and more composed musicians.
In actuality the metal scene in my country garnered prevalent negative reactions due to local tabloids looking for sizzling, sensational news. Minds of the public are corrupted with ridiculous stories of uncharacteristic cult groups, bizarre religious rituals and compulsory use of psychedelic drugs which never took place at all. Thus instead of music lovers, they are branded as devil worshipping thugs. Of course, wild practices exist like stage dives, mosh pits, booze and the like whilst the songs are hard-hitting with aggressive rhythms and sinister lyrics. The brutal nature comes with the territory but not as reported by the journalists. Only through open minds, familiarity and awareness can one fully understand the whole story.
A majority of these metalheads (band members and fans alike) are actually good-natured people, befriending and supporting those who share the same interests. Not that much different from us Lomographers. Take Abdul Ramzee bin Abdul Hamid for example. Affectionately known as Jaie, he is of local metal band Sil Khannaz, manager of Nebiula Production and also the owner of Nebiula Heavy Metal Shop located in the heart of KL. He has done well for himself and also the metal community, keeping interest high by organizing gigs and attending shows at every opportunity. Despite rugged appearance and legendary status, he remains a humble, soft spoken individual which belies his death metal growls.
Back to rock Lomography, I probably won’t be as commercially successful as idols Valerio Berdini, Ami Barwell or Ahmad ‘Cipoi’ Saiful but at least I can try to prove film is just as good as digital. Forget the high-tech gears. You only need the right camera loaded with the appropriate roll, a suitable venue and a good spot to pull off. Bear in mind film is not limited to certain types of analogue photography. We’ve heard of street, wedding or portrait but seldom music in these recent years. I hope that more music lovers cum Lomographers are joining this cause. Through our photos we can shed a positive limelight on this misunderstood society and remind the general public not to take things at face value. Perchance if time permits I plan to have a global trek to discover metal communities in other parts of the world, to understand their culture over there and get acquainted with fellow metallers. So far I’ve only covered Solo and Bandung in Indonesia. More places to come, God willing.
Hey, we can shoot AND enjoy the music at the same time without worrying about zoom lenses getting broken by head bangers and crowd surfers. So Lomo-rock on!