We might have been off the loop for quite some time but that doesn't mean we forgot all your burning analogue questions!
Yes, it’s another week for our Ask Your Guru feature in which we pair a Lomography Newcomer to a LomoGuru for some Lomography Q-and-A! Well, we better get this rolling! Who do we have today? It’s Lomography newbie mamontovas getting all curios with Spain-based LomoGuru, disdis!
“Eight long fruitful years” is how he describes his stay in the Lomography Community in which his first camera was a Lomography Supersampler from his beloved wife. I’m sure you’re familiar of disdis or Diego Ruiz de Gauna from Spain!
Diego is currently a Marketing Manager in a playing card company in Vitoria. He is also a full-time dad who thinks he’s “getting old” and that “taking care of family and friends is the most important thing in life.” He enjoys his quiet time listening to vinyl records and reading a book.
Now for our “newcomer” from Lithuania, it’s mamontovas or Andrius Mamontovas outside the web. Quote-unquote newcomer for this guy who has been taking analogue photographs for 40 years already! But don’t let it fool ya, because he is definitely new breed in this Community.
Andrius, is someone we can call an “all-around artist.” He is a songwriter, singer, musician, producer, and sometimes, an actor. He has recorded and produced around 30 albums and has been performing onstage as a musician or an actor worldwide, from Chile to North Korea. Hey, he sure is no newcomer in his chosen work field!
Seems like a strange pair for this edition, but hey, I bet the question and answer part was real good! Here you go, everyone!
Andrius Mamontovas (AM): If you’d have to choose one film type, what would it be? Black and white or colour film? Why?
Diego Ruiz de Gauna (DRG): Just one? OK, if I had to choose just one it would be the old [Agfa] CT Precisa, X-processed. It‘s economical, has good contrast, and gets nice colours. The new one is still good anyway but now I‘m stuck with the Kodak EBX because of the saturation of the colors — that‘s for summer. In winter as I live in a cloudy part of Spain, I like using black and white but I think I won‘t remain faithful to a film.
AM: I see your Lomographs as a photo blog of your life. Do you upload every snap you take, or do you select only the best ones?
DRG: That‘s true. When I revisit my albums I always think it‘s like a photo blog and that‘s because I never reject any of my pictures. That would be like rejecting one of your children. All the pictures I have are part of my life, some are mistakes, some are even disgusting for they are all part of a working process. If anyone checks my first and last album, they’ll see that pictures change (camera, rolls, techniques) but the spirit will always be the same. On the other side, imagine rejecting that first or last picture incompleted in a roll. Most of the people don‘t even consider them but then you imagine a project and call it the swan song project.
This awesome project created by one of the best Lomo-activist (not in the Community) insisted that collecting these burned pictures “being this makes them unique, unfinished fragments that keep within themselves the thin red line between the existence and the void. Those photographs, once worthless and forced to oblivion, become now — as two centuries of history agonize — priceless treasures, incomplete fragments of memory which, as photography itself, fight for not to vanish forever. Pure visual poetry! How could I reject a picture?
AM: What is your most beloved camera and why?
DRG: The classic Lomo LC-A. Don‘t ask why, just take it with you and shoot! That‘s the essence of Lomography. Other cameras may be great like the LC-Wide, Lubitel 166+, Diana+, Sprocket Rocket… But the LC-A is still the most versatile considering.
AM: Do you scan/develop your films by yourself?
DRG: I usually scan my own negatives once I receive the developed rolls from the lab. I used to develop some black & white on my own but sincerely, I have not much time to be in the dark room. I have one or two labs where I get quite good results with a nice price and going there is an excuse to talk about the weather and buy some film!
AM: Do you do light leaks on purpose or they just happen by accident?
DRG: Maybe 90% are by accident but I got some that were made on purpose. For example, this was made on purpose thinking about a good one but it was even better than what I’ve imagined:
Others are unpredictable and incomprehensible, as for example, the Supersampler doesn’t get light leaks unless you open it:
AM: How do you ask a stranger to let you take their portrait?
DRG: Just be respectful, polite, and use a little sense of humour. Try to be natural as a kid would be. Normally, people feel confortable and accept if you show them your little plastic Diana or Holga. They don‘t feel you are shooting them as it happens with a reflex camera. With strangers, I try not to kook through the viewfinder and shoot from the hip.
AM: Is Digital Harinezumi a LOMO camera? Any thoughts?
DRG: I would say definitely no. Though it‘s a funny gadget, it don‘t think that‘s a Lomo camera as I think it isn‘t Lomo like any application for a mobile phone. For me, Lomography means analogue, not only lo-fi photography. It‘s about a true analogue experience and a lifestyle. You can do Lomo pictures using truly expensive analogue Hasselblads or Leicas. It doesn‘t mean that I never shoot in Instagram, or loving Super8 app videos, but I would never upload any digital pictures in this site.
Editor’s note: A Digital Harinezumi is a product by Japanese film company, Superheadz. And yes, it is definitely not Lomo. :)
AM: 10,000 Lomographs in your Home now… What’s next?
DRG: 20,000? I have lots of projects and ideas in mind. Unfortunately now I don‘t have much time. I would go into sorrow if I loose the opportunity to carry out my most desired project which is doing a portrait session with/of my father. There‘s not much time left to the end of his life and I cannot find the moment to have those last pictures of him smiling.
AM: Do you “pimp” your Lomographic cameras in any way?
DRG: I would like to customize some of them but that‘s my wife‘s task. She loves crafting and we‘ve spoken several times about this. In some other sense, I usually try to use masks or modifiy my cameras. You would believe how I solved a problem with my Lubitel 166+. The advance knob broke so I searched anything at home to repair it and put a hook instead.
AM: Do you use the light meter? Any tips?
DRG: I‘ve used light meters in the past but sincerely, sometimes it makes you loose and if you take pictures of people the wait can be annoying. As I take many photos in the street, I would loose the moment caption. So I never carry it with me. The film has its pros and one of them is that the exposure can be more flexible. Just have to remember some basic rules.
AM: Who is your photography /Lomography Guru?
DRG: This could be linked with the second question as my favourite would be Robert Frank. I think he is a true Lomographer. He never thinks about getting the perfect shot but real images with their mistakes. And those images are so full of humanity.
Considering the Community it would be difficult to choose just one. There are so many inspiring people out there. I will tell you some and the reason why: satomi for her masks , warning for her models, vicuna for his life vision, blueskyandhardrock for her locations, mephisto19 for his 67,137 pictures, susielomovitz for her creativity, jeabzz for his street photos, stouf for his experiments, hodachrome for his tips, dakadev_pui for his colours, earlybird for his double portraits in black and white, and wil6ka for his travel pictures and so many more. Each user inspires me to continue shooting!
Well, wasn’t that a great interview? Thank you Andrius and Diego for this one! Thanks too for reading! Stay tuned for the next edition of Ask Your Guru!
Are you a curious Newcomer? Or maybe a LomoGuru who would like to share tips and tricks to our noobs? Then this is your time to be featured! Just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Catch ya!