Is there anybody out there? Personal notes on blogging and film photography

Credits: laurasulilly

Is anybody out there? This is what I often wonder when I write a blog post. It kind of feels like talking to myself or into the void, because it’s hard to tell whether there are people who actually care, or whether I’m just doing it for myself (which isn’t a bad thing as such I think). Maybe that’s why I haven’t posted much after starting off rather enthusiastically. But why am I still doing it anyways, then? And why do I use film after all?

Credits: laurasulilly

Posting pictures on my blog, Facebook, Flickr or other photo sharing platforms is a way of showing what I do, but on a voluntary basis so to speak. Meaning, it’s not the same like constantly shoving photos into other people’s faces in “real” life because I’m oh-so-proud of the the things I do. Online, people can choose for themselves whether they fancy taking a look or not. I’m just not the kind of person who’d call myself an artist or whatever (feels very weird to even put myself into a line with “artistry” given that I have never ever considered myself particulalry creative or talented). I want people to decide for themselves.

Credits: laurasulilly

In fact, I do feel proud, because I tought this whole photography thing to myself and worked quite a lot on it (the only talents I’m a natural at are the very boring ones of discipline and industriousness I guess). And I think I have come quite far even though I still have a very long way to go, that’s for sure. But I have reached a level which makes me look at my pictures and think: “Hey, they’re finally not that bad after all (Er, but hang on, that dark line there shouldn’t really be there…damn I messed up)!”

Also, I have moved from plastic cameras to Polaroids (not exclusively, though), the latter still within the realm of lo-fi photography. Polaroids offer endless options of manipulating and lifting which justify the high prize per shot, at least in my view.

Also, because of reasons concerning my health, my financial situation, my occupation and my character as such (I’ve always been a homey person), I spend quite some time at home at the moment, and every now and then an idea comes up which I can’t wait to try. But I’m the only person around, so I have to use myself even though I’d often prefer someone else being on the picture because I don’t consider myself particularly photogenic (but waiting 2 weeks until I find a friend who can spare some time is also out of the question). So I ended up doing a lot of self-portraits lately.

Credits: laurasulilly

So much for the blogging…but why do I use film? To sum it up, I don’t use film, be it Polaroid or other, because I consider it more “authentic” in contrast to digital. I also don’t think that using film makes a shot more valuable or artsy just because it is shot on film. Actually, I myself don’t like to randomly shoot hundreds of pictures on film without thinking (the lomographic approach so to speak), but to put a lot of thought into each and every shot, before (planning the shot) AND after (analyzing the shot for flaws). Honestly, I prefer a well executed digital, photoshopped or smartphone app shot to any random vacation shot on film. The same goes for photographic effects, be it on film (x-pro, vignetting, the washed out colours of certain Polaroid films, etc), or those notorious Iphone apps. I use (analogue) lo-fi effects because I want them to enhance a certain aesthetic message in a given shot, not to make a boringly composed and framed picture of granny sitting on the couch more interesting. I like to believe that any given shot I produce is still interesting even when stripped off of its effects, and that the chosen effects highlight the shot at the same time. I’m still figuring out how to do that, though. So I choose cameras and films according to what I want to achieve and create, and I choose film because I think it makes me try harder and thus learn more in the long run than using app filters or photoshop. Still, I have seen great pictures shot on a Smartphone. It’s the person behind the lens who counts, not the camera. The camera’s always only a medium. The rest is up to you, and in my case, that “rest” sometimes works out, sometimes it just doesn’t.

Just my 2 cents, though. I don’t hold them to be absolute truths. There are many approaches to photography on here, from purists to pragmatists and everything in between.
I kind of felt like talking today, even if I’m just talking to myself really. If you have managed to stick with me until now, you deserve a present: I present to you the opportunity to keep all the spellos and typos you might find. Generous me.
If there’s anyone who fancies, do feel free to leave a comment about your approach to film photography, or blogging, or life as such. It might end up making me feel that there are people out there in that void…

written by laurasulilly on 2012-08-24


  1. rik041
    rik041 ·

    hi, I understand the English language is not very good,
    I understood that you hardly notes on your blog entries. maybe someone can translate this to German blod ..
    love greeting

  2. oldtimer-rfh
    oldtimer-rfh ·

    Your words speak volumes,sometimes the family can be very sad in there ability to see artist of photography. I am often sad at what many Lomoites call quality photography. It seems that you just need to make weak photos and you are popular. Hang in there you are an artist and your work is excellent and artistic,keep up the good work and blog on. Some people do care!

  3. laurasulilly
    laurasulilly ·

    @oldtimer-rfh: Thanks for your kind words! I feel happy about you saying I'm an artist although it's also still the case that I don't consider myself one. Just a person with a perfection who's quite a perfectionist sometimes. As for the commuity, it's up to each and everyone, but as I have said in my blog, I myself prefer a different approach for the stuff I produce and it's nice to see that there are others as well.

  4. laurasulilly
    laurasulilly ·

    erm, i meat to say a person with a passion, not perfection (but a perfectionist nevertheless)...

  5. bloomchen
    bloomchen ·

    well, i wouldn´t sign all of your statements. especially the randon vacation shot. i do understand what you mean and for sure digital shots are not less creative than analogue shots but for sure the way to the shot is different. i had a discussion about this during my vacation with a graphic designer who said that using film today and trying to get certain effects on the picture is so stupid because he would just take a random digital shot and then work it over until it looks perfect and has all the effects he wants. the conclusion is that knowing how to use software makes you creative as you´re the one behind the shot.

  6. laurasulilly
    laurasulilly ·

    @bloomchen: thanks for commenting. i think you have a valid point there. i think i might have not put the whole thing concerning the "radom vacation shot" correctly. firstly, i wasn't trying to say that "vacation shots" as such are somehow less valuable than concept shots (both digital or analogue). i have done that myself and i have seen very cool ones on here. it was just an example to illustrate the following: for me, personally, i find it more useful not to "randomly" take pictures in the sense that i like to put some thought into it (before and after), because since i'm really not a natural at the whole photography thing, things like composition, framing and so on don't come to me just like that, i have to think hard about them. but i do, because everytime i produce a shot i like, i'd like to be able to re-produce it as perfectly as i can (not in all it's details, i'm talking about the effect of a "good" picture, whatever that's supposed to be, so to speak) and to improve by actually being able to reproduce something which has worked out before (like a cool composition you stumble upon by coincidence- coincidence is still a matter, but i'm trying to minimize that, you know). i was trying to say that i don't like to use photographic effects just for the sake of the effect itself, regardless of what actually is on the picture. this also relates to what your friend said and to the fact that he apparently tries to "manipulate" a random digital shot in post-production till it gets somehow more interesting- that's no well executed photo at all, in my view. and it's true that the use of film, because it's "slower", involves a different approach towards photography which is kind of more "coscious" if you will. on the other hand, just because one uses film, one isn't guaranteed a more conscious way of photographing per se (i find this to be a miscoception and i have talked to some friends who are very talented trained photographers who use both film and digital about that matter and they have kind of pointed that out to me in the first place). you can always enhance that by being conscious to composition, framing, use of colours and contrasts, perspective as well and that's my personal goal. ever since i started that i feel like i have improved way more than when i was "randomly" shooting. but again, that
    's totally personal and approaches vary enormously in this community...sorry for writing that much but i wanted to make clear that i didn't intend to bash people with a different approach to their shooting habits)

  7. laurasulilly
    laurasulilly ·

    the wohle "don't think just shoot" approach just doesn't make it for me, personally, because i feel i don't improve enough when i do this. perfectionism strikes again.

  8. bloomchen
    bloomchen ·

    "don´t think just shoot" is ambivalent. sometimes it´s amazing and sometimes it´s crap. but in fact i don´t like the rule and somehow i think that anyone who is experienced has to some degree the picture/result in his head when looking at a certain motif. so it´s not only pointing and releasing.

  9. laurasulilly
    laurasulilly ·

    @bloomchen: yes, you're right, from a certain point of experience onwards, you start to see the result before you actually release the shutter. and the more you shoot, the faster you get there. so from this point of view, shooting as much as possible can take you forward quickly and a lot of us have started that way....ah, sometimes i should just relax i guess because sometimes i even don't take a shot because i think it's not worth it but i might be missing out a good shot in fact, who knows...but on the other hand, Polaroid film is just so damn expensive, i try not to waste it and use it right on the target so to speak. when i use other cameras and less expensive film, i'm a bit less resrtrained (i use middle format with a lot of thought as well though, but 35 mm is cheaper and thus better for snappig away if i had a camera for that- my minolta isn't with auto focus so it can take ages to actually focus which is why i don't use it for snapshots either)

  10. bloomchen
    bloomchen ·

    in a way i really like your approach to being able to re-shoot a certain photo again. for me personally it would maybe take away the effect of really being surprised about certain shots. BUT: i´m not like you so deep into concepts and thinking - and i really understand that because i would probably do it the same way with polaroids just because of the money.
    maybe you should get yourself a rangefinder camera like the minolta hi-matic. i really like this camera and it is a cheap alternative to a LC-A which would be a very good choice.
    as i almost only shoot slide 35mm isn´t really cheap i´d say. i depend on cheap film from ebay. i tend to shoot 120-film faster than 35mm even though all in all it´s a little bit more expensive.

  11. laurasulilly
    laurasulilly ·

    @bloomchen: oh, surprise is still always there, cause i'm not really able to minimize coincidence 100 %- but it's true, i'm not lookig for surprise although I welcome it if it's a good one. As i've said, i'm a control-freak and a perfectionist you know, both in good and bad :)
    thanks for your suggestion, i will have a look at that cam!

  12. bloomchen
    bloomchen ·

    schau mal:… - da gibt es im augenblick noch einige mehr. das einzige problem sind die batterien, aber da kann ich dir auch sagen, wo du die bestellen kannst. kostet auch nicht viel.

  13. laurasulilly
    laurasulilly ·

    @bloomchen: ach nee, verpasst, und das nur um 3min! danke für den link, ich gucke mir die kamera mal genauer an. ist ja echt günstig auf ebay.

  14. hervinsyah
    hervinsyah ·

    The woman in the 5th photo is very beautiful

  15. elcalamare
    elcalamare ·

    hey Laura, trust me when i say that you are not alone. your voice speaks volumes to most of us, me included. i think you have a great style and whatever you think you are or are not, it doesn't matter as long as you enjoy what you're doing! would love to know more and hear back on your direction/projects...

  16. laurasulilly
    laurasulilly ·

    @elcalamare: thank you very much for your kind words. At the moment, I'm thinking of exploring double exposures further, but again, no coicidental double exposures but staged and set double exposures...I have some things in my mind which I plan thoroughly and thoughtfully and I hope to be able to pursue my ideas within the next couple of weeks...

  17. alex34
    alex34 ·

    We all do this for different reasons I guess. For me, the all-mechanical aspect of film cameras and the handling of film itself is a very major factor. Also the experience of using rarer films before they disappear altogether-I'm trying some Efke infrared right now. No success as yet, but they stopped manufacture last week, so this will be the last ever chance to try such a film...

  18. laurasulilly
    laurasulilly ·

    @alex34: Thank you for your comment! I highly respect your approach and I know that you have a deep love for old film cameras. One can easily tell that by looking at your Home. You're collecting treasures over there :)

  19. lhgoodheart
    lhgoodheart ·

    These are really beautiful pictures. For me its not a case of whats more authentic or not. Its more that some camera make me want to go out and take pictures and others don't.

  20. laurasulilly
    laurasulilly ·

    @lhgoodheart: thank you for your kind words! well, that's also a good approach. I find it really interesting to see how many different approaches towards (film) photography are out there and I really like to hear other people's stances :)