Over the past month at the "New York City Lomography PopUpShop":http://beta.lomography.com/magazine/blog/2009/01/05/new-york-city-lomography-popupshop-the-last-week, we have met so many new friends, neighbors, old-school Lomographers, and other assorted colorful characters.
Over the past month at the New York City Lomography PopUpShop, we have met so many new friends, neighbors, old-school Lomographers, and other assorted colorful characters.
One visitor had a particularly amazing tale to share with us. It’s truly an extraordinary Lomographic story, about how Lomography changed someone’s life. It is the story of Katie Rose Testa, and without further delay, here it is in Katie’s own words, followed by a gallery of some of Katie’s images. I’m sure you will enjoy it!
I don’t know how to start this, or how to end this, but I’m writing this letter to explain my start to lomography, and the impact it has had on my life. I guess I’ll just dive in and start with that one instance that had changed my life…
June, 1998, Princeton record exchange. I was six years old helping my dad hunt for Steely Dan rarities. After walking out of the store, successful, we decided to take a stroll around the campus on this abnormally chilly, but bright, June day. We were down at the waterfront, galloping through the grass and climbing in the lush green trees. All of the sudden, something in a tree had caught my eye. A pink balloon! Such a pretty pink balloon tangled in the prickly foliage.
Being small and able-bodied, I climbed to the branch and untangled the glossy white string. I jumped down in excitement. Not as durable as a 6-year-old, the balloon got caught in the pointy branches and popped! What it bummer it was to be on the ground with a silly white string after going through all that trouble to rescue the balloon. As I pulled at the rubber I felt my face turn hot and red and the tears welling up in my eyes. But ah! A note! Tied right onto the string under the flaccid pink rubber. I screamed “PAPA! PAPA! A NOTE!” I opened the note as quickly as possible, it read, “You won! Send your address to this address (not to be included for safety reasons) to receive a prize!”
You could imagine my excitement when i had found out that I won a prize. The second I got home I grabbed some paper and wrote as neatly as I could, “I won! I’m the winner!” Papa wrote out our address, shoved the note into the envelope, addressed t and slapped on a stamp. I sealed it with a good luck kiss. Everyday I waited. I didn’t know what to wait for, but I waited for it. After 2 weeks, I was starting to think that my kiss “good luck” was the kiss of death. Me. being 6 years old with ADHD, gave up and soon forgot about my prize. But after two weeks of waiting, and three weeks of not, a package slip finally arrived! OH GEE! (When your six, getting a package makes your WEEK.) After picking it up from the post office, I RIPPED THAT PACKAGE APART. Well, after the tape was off I played with the packing peanuts for 10 minutes (ADHD.) But then, hidden by the foamy delight, there it was! “Plastic?” i said, confused. “No, a camera.” Said my pops. He pulled out the camera and examined it while I flipped the box over. Out came those pink, white, and green packing peanuts, a roll of film, and a note…
Here is my best friend. USE HER WISELY AND UNWISELY.
10 Golden Rules:
1. Take your camera everywhere you go.
2. Use it anytime, day or night.
3. Lomography is not an interference in your life, but a part of it.
4. Shoot from the hip.
5. Get as close as possible.
6. Don’t think.
7. Be fast.
8. You don’t need to know what you took a picture of before hand…
9. Or afterwards.
10. Don’t worry about any rules!
I was excited. I mean REAL excited. “LOMOGRAPHY,” I exclaimed. (Little did I know that I would soon be living my whole life by these 10 rules.) My Pops loaded the camera. He held up the index finger of the right hand, “Trigger finger.” I pressed the shutter. (That sweet, soft, melodic click soon became the sound of comfort.)I shot the roll throughout the week. I was eager to have it developed. When I did, I opened the envelope and fell in love with every single image in there. I saw bright, colorful, fun, beautiful, different angles that I have never seen before! I didn’t see the blurry, under, over exposed, crappy images everyone else saw. The only person as excited as I was, was my Pop’s friend, Mark. He understood the pictures.
It was love. Love, love love, love, love, love, love! This magic box was the beautiful Lomo LC-A. MY best friend. I took Lo (as I named her) everywhere I went. She was gentile, kind, and saw everything I saw, and helped me see things in ways I’ve never seen then before.
A year later, things in my family life became rocky, Lo was there. Lo will and has always been there. I love her! And she loves me. The LC-A was my outlet for EVERYTHING. There was nothing I saw that she didn’t. At 10 I started getting curious, and i soon became deeply interested in this Society of Lomography. Age, race and status didn’t matter. It was about fun. It was about documenting MY life. It wasn’t about rules of aperture, focus, art, or trying to make anything perfect. If you f**k a picture up, thats a good thing. It made the world beautiful and exciting for me. It changed my perception.
Everyday of my life since the minute i met Lo I wondered about the person who sent me her. This person had changed my life. This person had made me who I am. When I was about 12, Mark helped me track down the address we had gotten the package from. He did some research and found out the boy who sent the package had been a literature major at Princeton, living in a dorm when I found the balloon. Mark tracked down the guy’s name and number. His name is Romanove. Romanove did the “balloon experiment” with a small group of friends. They all decided that they wanted to share their prized possessions with the world. Romanove and I kept in contact for a year before he decided to take a trip to good ’ol New York City to be re-united with his old best friend.
Sitting in Union Square Park sat a harsh-faced Russian with a full beard and jagged nose. I knew it was him. I slipped Lo out of my pocket and I saw his eyes fixate on her. “B-baby!” He stammered out. He jumped up and greeted me with a hug. I presented Lo. As he touched the weathered plastic of his old lady, his eyes welled up. So did mine. (Lame, I know, but all of you at Lomography should understand.) We had a great day together. We showed each other photographs and explored the depths of each others lives. I gave him a present as his trip was nearing an end. I gave him my first negatives. Romanove gave me a present as well. He presented me with a Holga. My life was changed again. Medium format was mystical and magical to me.
Romanove now lives in Italy with his Great Dane, Lomo. We still keep in contact and I will always love and be thankful for him and the things he gave me. Keep in mind this all wouldn’t have been possible without the Viennese students who created Lomography, the 10 golden rules, and fought to keep the production of the LC-A going.
I now have an LC-A+ who is doing a beautiful job of taking Lo’s material place. Lo is kept safe in my negative volt in East Brunswick, New Jersey. Nice and safe.
So that’s about it. I just wanted to thank you. THANK ALL OF YOU.
Thanks for changing my life.