It's one full year now since I joined the community. I can trace it back to a trip to an Art Gallery. But if I think about it, perhaps I can trace it back much further.
The end of last month saw my first year as a ‘Lomographer’. It was one full year since I walked into the Art Gallery in Auckland and saw a shelf full of film, fisheyes and the camera that saw me return to film photography: that beautiful Diana F+.
I recall wondering what 120 film was and going home to do some research, signing up to join the community and being amazed by what I saw. The stunning variety of photography, from simple snap shots at parties to remarkable works of art. Almost immediately, I went hunting through the boxes in the garage and very quickly found my grandfather’s old SLR, my Praktica LTL. I drove to the nearest camera shop, where I bartered over a few rolls of recently expired Sensia, drove to my favorite location in Auckland and spent the afternoon taking shots of the Wintergardens and Flowers there.
A few days later I had the roll cross-processed at a lab and was absolutely amazed at the results, pinks, reds purples. With this new technique (new to me anyway) I had created a new reality. I ordered cameras and film from the Lomography Online Shop and have been doing so ever since. I wanted to try everything.
You see, film photography is not something I’m new to. Unlike a large percentage of the community, I grew up when there was nothing else. I think this is where my Lomo Beginning really lies.
My first camera was a 110 Kodak Instamatic. I used to love this funny little brick. Framing things in the viewfinder, the pop, sizzle and smell of the flash cubes. Tearing open the tough paper wrapping from a new film cartridge. Sending the film off in the post to be developed and the thrill of getting the pictures back. It was magic.
There was a huge collection of slides at home. Dad inherited them from his father; I used to adore looking through them. Grandfather had been as close to a Lomographer as you could be in the 60’s and 70’s. He’d taken photos of everything — and I mean everything. From images of the rolling hills of rural Lancashire and the Lake District, to fireworks, the Blackpool Illuminations, and even a fly sitting on some electrical tape.
When dad gave me grandfather’s old camera, I was thrilled. I could take the most amazing pictures in such low light with a high ISO film and that 50mm f1.8 lens.
When I went traveling, I couldn’t manage the weight of that SLR so I purchased a small compact 35mm camera to come with me. If only I’d known about the Lomo LC-A I would have bought one to take with me! The little Olympus wasn’t a bad camera and one thing I’m pleased about is that it vignetted too. I took wonderful pictures of Spain, France, Italy and Morocco.
By the time I’d finished I’d ended up in New Zealand, which is where I chose to settle down. Here I purchased a modern film Canon SLR and took classes in Black and White photography and development.
Then my wife became pregnant, the chemicals were no longer acceptable and I had to give that up.
It was then I bought my first digital camera. A Canon G6. The convenience was amazing. I loved ‘the convenience’. I upgraded to an SLR and slowly, very slowly I got bored. The magic had gone, my pictures lacked life and slowly, I gave up photography. For years.
In the end it all comes down to that trip to the art gallery. I’ve learnt more (and taught more) about photography in the past year than I did in the previous 20. I have a collection of Lomography and vintage cameras — each has different attributes that I love and value. Each takes pictures with a different personality. I’ve shot over 2000 photos.
I’ve accomplished many things during this years journey, but that’s a story for another day…
So if I look back through my life, every camera I had that ever interested me was an oddity, maybe not in it’s day but certainly none of them produced the exacting, sterile shots of the digital camera age. Is it any wonder I ended up here?