For a short time, Blaine Vernicek, otherwise known as clownshoes in our Community, needed to be away from his beloved muse, Miss Katie, and stay in another state because of his new job. But thanks to his Lomo Smena Symbol, he was able to bring with him photographs of his sweetheart that somehow helped him forget the unnerving distance between them. Read on to find out more about this heartwarming story in this installment of My First Lomo Affair!
Name: Blaine A. Vernicek
Location: Florida, United States of America
Please tell us something about yourself.
I’m 24 years old from a small chain of islands just off the coast of Florida. During the weekdays, I program and run a commercial radio station that reaches a good part of South Florida. Work eats up most of my week so I just enjoy shooting inside the studio. I also enjoy taking photos at night or during the weekends.
When was your first try of a Lomography camera or film? What product was it?
I really fell hard for Lomography in 2010 but I was also in a transitional phase between college and work at that time. One night, I took my dinner break from teaching dance and visited a consignment shop nearby. It has a display case with many vintage cameras. I noticed a purple faux ostrich skin ever-ready case and it was a Lomo Smena Symbol. The case was good and the film advance works although it had a crack and some missing plastic at the top.
Was the Lomography product yours or did you borrow it from a relative or friend?
I asked the lady running the store about the camera. She explained that an older Russian woman who lives around the area had brought the camera. I haggled a little bit and purchased it for twenty five bucks.
How was the experience? Any funny or strange occurrences?
I am like most people who hastily got interested in Lomography. I was reluctant at first because I don’t own a Lomography camera. I didn’t know how to develop or scan film at that point so I was always worried about getting my prints back but shockingly, they will always turn out great.
The only other film camera I had at that time to compare the Lomo Smena Symbol with was a Nikon F6 SLR. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from the Smena. With this camera, you can’t see what’s already in focus and the film advance was clunky but the results from it were good. Also, I love the cool looking Russian letters on its logo and the symbol exposure system on the lens and the back door.
Have you used that Lomography product again? Why or why not?
I soon moved back to South Florida and things stabilized a bit in my life. I own a lot of other Lomography cameras: Diana F+, La Sardina, Sprocket Rocket, Spinner 360, Lomography Belair X 6-12 City Slicker, and Lomography Fisheye No.2. These aren’t as flexible as the vintage Smenas but I’ve never used the Smena again after breaking two units of it!
Can you share us your favorite or most memorable shot from that First Lomo Affair of yours? Why is it your favorite?
This photograph is highly important to me. Ms. Katie and I had been living together until I moved to another state because of my job. This soft and saturated print was all I had. At that point, I didn’t own a smartphone and I rarely use a computer. When you don’t have those digital things, relying on analogue is all you can do.
How did it affect your love for Lomography/film photography?
After owning it, I soon signed up in the website. I even bought a Color Splash flash unit and a mystery pack of 35 mm film. Soon, I started reading the tips and trying out all these unfamiliar techniques like double exposure. My first Lomo Smena Symbol got broken and I didn’t get to shoot with it again until much later. It was great to use it again after learning more about film photography and knowing how to develop my own film. It’s too bad my second Lomo Smena Symbol got broken again!