When I got the assignment to write a Tipster article, I was really stumped as to what to write. I’m not particularly artistic when it comes to making things and I don’t have a technological enough brain to figure out how to do something amazingly innovative so I thought I’d share some little hints and tips that I’ve picked up along the way.
Take your camera everywhere. I always find that it’s the one time I don’t have my camera with me that I see something which would make the best picture! Get used to popping it in your bag and adding it to the “keys, phone, purse” mental checklist. And a spare film hanging around is always useful too.
Explore your hometown. Sometimes when you’re having a bad day or you’re bored and fed up of being stuck inside, it really improves your spirits to have a walk and take some photographs. You’ll be amazed at what you find in your town when you’re really looking and could open your eyes to some great new locations for portrait shoots.
Utilise your friends. Portrait shoots don’t have to be done with agency standard models who look like baby giraffes. Quite often the best portraits are the ones you take of your friends as you know them, they’ll relax around you and you’ll be able to capture their personality. If you carry your camera enough, you’ll eventually desensitise them to you pointing a lens at them at every opportunity and you should get some real gems. Make the most of a new location if you go on a day out with friends and don’t be shy about returning the favour if they ask you to strike a pose for them!
Don’t stress out too much if something goes wrong. The back has fallen off my Diana Mini now more times than I’d like to count and it can be extremely frustrating! I’ve got to the point now where I just accept it, rewind the film and wait and see what’s come out. Chances are, I only lose about three photos with a couple more having some really cool light leak effects. On other occasions a few of my pictures have had odd effects. Sometimes the happy accidents create great photos so try to have fun whatever the circumstances!
Take your camera to gigs. I find the best gig photos are at local gigs where you can get right up to the front of the stage and really capture the atmosphere. At larger gigs I tend to worry about my camera being crushed or stolen and then when I do manage to squeeze my Mini out, the flash usually ends up reflecting off the security guards outfits and ruining the photos! So get down to some of your local gigs which will also help to support your local music scene. Don’t be embarrassed if you’re the only one right down at the front, spitting distance from the band; it’s obvious you’re there to take photos and as long as you don’t get in the way of other punters or the band, people don’t tend to even notice you. Don’t be afraid to talk to the bands who will often be really interested in seeing your photos at a later date so introduce yourself at the merch stall. You never know, you could land yourself some new models; bands always need promo shots!
Flaunt your Lomography love! Searching websites like Etsy can bring up some real little Lomography treasures from Diana necklaces to handmade cases for all types of Lomo cameras. It adds a real quirky factor to your Lomography love. You could even go as far as me and get your favourite Lomo camera tattooed on you!
Read the books in the Lomography online store. I tend to treat myself every now and then to get a little new inspiration and see what other people are creating with their cameras. My favourites are the City Guides and I’ve booked a week in Berlin in the summer because I was so inspired by the photos and places to go in the book! I can’t wait for them to publish more. I’m also craving a Lubitel now after reading the Lubitel book. Maybe this tip should come with a warning… will induce spending!
Explore Lomography shops. They have a great selection of stock and allow you to see the items you’ve been lusting after up close. All cameras are out on display so you can pick them up and get a feel for them. All the shops are decorated beautifully and the staff are helpful and friendly. I absolutely love the nautical theme at the pop up shop in Birmingham. The stores are also great for picking up newsletters to find out about Lomography events and new products. There are often parties and Lomowalks to participate in which are a great way to improve your knowledge and meet new people.
Shoot strangers. Us Lomographers are lucky. Our cameras are usually far more discreet and less imposing than a large digital SLR and the cutesy, kitsch style of a lot of the cameras attract positive nostalgic attention. Use these points to your advantage! Take pictures of strangers however scary it may seem! Immerse yourself into a location that has a variety of people so you become a part of the space. If people notice you, smile, act friendly and say thank you and be polite if they strike up a conversation as our beautiful little cameras often do spark a chat. If someone looks uncomfortable or less than happy with your presence then take the hint and move away. As long as you remember your manners and respect their personal space, you should be fine.
If you find yourself in a creative slump, seek out some more obscure inspirations. Go to an art gallery and find a style you like and then research. Stick some of your favourite paintings on your bedroom wall and work out what it is you like about them and how you could emulate this in a photograph. Read classic literature and be inspired by the characters. Or go to stately homes and use their gardens and stunning architecture as a back drop to portraits. Talk to friends who design or customise their own clothes and ask to use some of them in a shoot. Take pictures of a friend’s car that they’ve spent a lot of time on. The more eccentric the better!
I hope some of these have given you a few ideas but I suppose my biggest tip is just to enjoy yourself. Let Lomography become an integral part of your life and it will reward you in more ways than you might think!