Lakan left me a quote with this interview — “Because Lomographs May Last Longer Than Memory,” a line that he most probably believes in when it comes to the Lomography life he lives.
He is no stranger to us. Having more than 30,000 Lomographs in his LomoHome, it is impossible for one frequent Community member to miss his work of analogue art. He is lakandula or Lakan Bunyi outside the Community. Someone who have wished for Lomography to arrive in his life sooner than it has happened.
For he stands with the fact that Lomographs are what will keep us intact with our memories. A certain part of our life that cannot erase even the most vague memories — as long as they were captured in analogue.
Know more about Lakan and his life with Lomography in this month’s edition of LomoDiary.
Full name Lakan Bunyi
Lomography Username: lakandula
Location: Muntinlupa City, Philippines
Number of years as a Lomographer: 4
Number of years in the Community: 4 but only active for the last 3.5 years
Kindly relate to us any memorable experience, whether happy or sad, you’ve had in relation to Lomography.
I work in the field of arts, culture, human rights and development which has brought me to different places in the Philippines and sometimes abroad. But taking photos of my travels and work to far flung communities had not been my habit for a long time that those memories simply linger in my mind without much tangible counterpart to look back to. Unfortunately those memories are fading fast that no brain food like peanuts would be enough to recover. The very few photos I had were courtesy of my colleagues and friends who occasionally included me in their shots. Otherwise, I felt very comfortable just being in the background or totally out of the picture or taking other people’s pictures after signalling “Say CHEESE or SMILE!”
Sometime in 1998 when I was in Hong Kong to conduct a workshop for differently-abled people, my co-worker in the theater company back home asked me to buy him a silver pocket-size film camera which at that time was quite a novelty – “the Olympus Myu”http://www.thecamerasite.net/02_Rangefinders/Images/Olympus-mju-II.jpg. I also bought a unit for myself. For some time I used it to document some of the succeeding workshops I facilitated – well, only when I felt using it. Then in 2000 while at the airport in Bangkok, I bought a duty-free digital camera that was so petite and cute – a blue Sony Cybershot U. I found it useful in taking quick photos for use in PowerPoint presentations especially that time when I was working with young people in preparation for their report to the Ministers of East Asia and Pacific region in a Beijing conference. After that, it remained in the cabinet until my sister borrowed it. Those two short-lived romance with photography were failures in inspiring me to continue which strangely did not break my heart at all. I guess I cared less about collecting memories and thought then that whatever was in the mind and in the heart would suffice for a lifetime. I was wrong. Memories are not guaranteed to last forever. I should have documented my precious past. Photographs and videos do have significant function in preserving personal history in this day and age.
I had a change of heart when I discovered Lomography. It was a 180-degree turn. My first trip to Hidalgo, Manila’s Mecca of photography, has lead me to my yellow brick road to analogue happiness (to learn more about my LomoHistory.
For the past four years and an arsenal of 20+ cameras (mostly secondhand, a few brand new and some need fixing) and rolls and rolls of films, I have amassed some 36,000+ snippets of my life since 1998. Documenting my work and my life’s experiences through the wonder of analogue lens and plastic boxes grew from a hobby to a passion. My LomoHome albums became my photo diary so I can review my life (just a portion of it at a time) anytime in all analogue style. If you view them in chronological order, you will probably have a good idea of the life I have lived so far since 1998. Photographs serve like thumbnails to easily access stored feelings and thoughts of the past. Linking or tagging my friends and colleagues to these albums via Facebook gives them access to a visceral experience of the ups and downs of my being human, a freelancer, a development worker, an artist, a friend, a brother, a son, a dreamer. I am very happy I began to take Lomo-documenting my life and work seriously. And it has been fun and colorful, too!
What are the emotions that best explain this story you have? What are your thoughts about it?
I don’t have regrets for my past except that how I wish I have discovered Lomography much sooner (especially when slides and medium format films were still cheaper). Every picture is a story to be told and to be shared. Had I photographed the many places I had been to and the different faces I had met along the way, I would have shared the visual narratives of my adventures and misadventures more easily with family, friends and curious strangers.
But now, since I am more passionate about Lomographing what I do and who I am, I can embrace the truth that eventually my brain will fail me but my Lomographs will be there to survive and to tell stories of how I uniquely looked at some fine moments in my world.
Every experience is worth remembering. I realized that every person should invest in creative ways to document his own life so others after him may discover lessons useful to make their future a lot better and happier. The photographs we may be taking today can serve as inspiration or even source of wisdom for others tomorrow. Why spoil that wonderful opportunity to meaningfully connect your life with others in the future when you have the chance right now?
Instead of shooting people with guns and bullets in senseless rage, I shoot people with my Lomo cams and films. And they are alive and happy! I shoot not to kill but to live and to share the stories I witness every time I click the camera. In a world where everything now gets automated, Lomography serves as my vital tool to connect humanely with the world around me. People usually get curious when I hold my camera towards them. I think it is a mix of confusion and wonder whether my camera is real or not. But their discovery of an analogue toy in a very digital age seems to always elicit a sense of humor that they usually reciprocate my friendly gesture with a smile or they simply go on with their business without resistance to a few clicks I make with my camera.
If ever this experience did not occur in your life, what kind of person are you right now? Are you not the same person without this experience?
I would not know what choices I would make if things were different – had I not discovered Lomography. But I guess if I’m not taking pictures perhaps I’ll end up in the picture or at least in the background, better yet be the one marveling at someone else’s pictures and envying him for being brave in sharing his personal way of framing and freezing moments that happen in his world.
Well, I prefer being the photographer but don’t mind being the subject of my photography as obvious with my many self-portraits. For now, I will still continue shooting Lomographs as they may last longer than my memory.
Let us dive deeper into Lakan’s LomoDiary with this gallery he has shared with us.
*Nymia is the executive director of PhilRIGHTS – an NGO focused on research and advocacy on human rights. We were facilitating a training of public high school teachers in war-affected areas in North Cotabato and Maguindanao on how to integrate peace and human rights in class. Took her portrait during workshop break. She particularly loves this double with accidental inclusion of a newspaper clipping on Aung San Suu Kyi who is one of her heroes.
- Shot during a workshop on ‘puni’ or leaf art making at the GPRehab – a center for children with disabilities in Dumaguete. Textured with random images of graphic arts, writing, etc.
- When typhoon Ondoy made landfall in late September 2009, it wreaked havoc and left many areas in Luzon devastated and underwater. UNICEF Philippines commissioned our team to produce a short musical advocating the importance of breastfeeding, safe water, hygiene and sanitation for people who were still living in evacuation sites and temporary shelters five months since the advent of the calamity. Brought the play to 75 communities in the provinces of Laguna, Rizal, Bulacan, and Metro Manila. Took this shot of a mother breastfeeding her baby shortly before the start of our mobile play in an urban poor community in Alabang.
- My workshop with young journalists was done for the day so I decided to visit the seaside area at the back of SM Mall in Davao just after lunch. This waterfront area is crowded by locals and tourists as a popular night spot in the city. In daytime, one can marvel at this replica of the statue of David surrounded by a pool with live baby sharks.
- Sheena Mae Onlos belongs to the Mansaka tribe of Tagum City. She and her twin sister together with her family are all active in the socio-cultural development of their indigenous community. The twins volunteered as liaison officers assisting different groups in the 3rd International Rondalla Festival in Tagum City. Sheena also participated in the Luzon leg of the festival. Took her portraits during the closing ceremonies at the Carillon Plaza in UP Diliman.
- Conducted this basic theater arts workshop to young people belonging to a faith-based organization. They come from different communities in Metro Manila. Their newly-gained knowledge, skills and attitude on performing arts would be useful in their advocacy work in their respective communities.
- After days of gloomy weather in Rio, the sun finally smiled on a Friday. Took my cameras out in the streets of Copacabana then to the beach. Took self-portraits as proof that I walked the streets and white sand beach of Rio de Janeiro.