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An Introduction: Stephen Dowling's 36x36 Series

LomoAmigo Stephen Dowling a.k.a. stephen73 will soon be bringing his personal project into the Lomography Magazine as a new series. Let's welcome the international music journalist as he tells something about himself, the cameras he works with and his project called 36x36.

Name: Stephen Dowling
Location: London, England
Lomohome: stephen73
Series/Section: 36×36 on Analogue Lifestyle

In 1994 I left my native New Zealand for life in London (which I still call home). I bought an autofocus Olympus bridge camera – no need to change lenses – and thought little about the photographs I took, other than documenting my travels.

But over the following years the photography bug bit deeper. The Olympus went, to be replaced by a Canon EOS, photography were books bought and studied, ££££s spent on film and developing.

In 2000, just as digital was starting to bleed into the photographic mainstream, I bought a Lomo LC-A from a West End camera store, and an old East German Praktica SLR, the latter to help me learn photography from the ground up.

A decade later, I’ve got a collection of cameras sitting in a sets of drawers. They’re not mint-condition Leicas or Nikons, or polished Rolleiflexes. Many are old Soviet curios or 1960s and 70s era cameras, some of them bought for only a few pounds.

In an effort to get me using them all, I hit upon the idea of a project, called 36×36. Most of the time, rolls of 35mm film come with 36 frames, so I would shoot a few rolls on each camera and collect 36 frames. I’d shoot a roll of colour neg, black and white, slide and cross-processed slide.

I’m working on another project, shooting bands at soundcheck, and using two Nikon cameras, two lenses, and one film stock in order to give the photos a uniform feel. This has been a nice reaction to that – all sorts of films, expired and otherwise, different lenses, the different quirks, strengths and weaknesses that they have. The only rule is the cameras have to be manual, and they have to take 35mm film.

So far I’ve used cameras commonplace and curious. There’s Nikon’s much-loved FM2N, a favourite of press photographers for years, and the Zenit E, a Soviet relic built in the many millions. There’s Lomography’s own LC-A+ and the famous Olympus Trip, a simple compact with an unbelievably good lens. Cosina’s Bessaflex – a screw-mount lens camera made in 2004 – is also on the list, and the Pentax ESII, one of the few screw-mount SLRs to give aperture priority, and made famous by Clash photographer Pennie Smith. And there’s also the Zenit 16, a semi-automatic SLR that’s blessed with kick-ass retro charm.

Only a third of the way through, I’m already thinking I won’t stop at 36 cameras…recommendations for cameras to pick up are always gratefully received.

The international Magazine team of Lomography is currently looking for dedicated writers who are interested in contributing articles (to any section) on a regular basis. Eager and interested? Read this call-out article and we’ll be waiting for your emails!

written by plasticpopsicle

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