Here’s a look back at how this lomo addiction started for me.
My interest in analogue photography or simply “photography,” as we call it then, started around 1999. I was tasked to facilitate our batch’s graduation pictures which led me to spend significant time in the studio we hired. I was curious about the process and was even allowed to observe as the technician did his work in the dark room. Casual conversation led to strong desire and interest to take up a new hobby. I was able to borrow a Zenit 12XP SLR from my friend’s brother and bought a couple or black and white rolls, and even a box of photo paper to try it out. Of course, at that time I have zero knowledge about how to properly expose film; neither could I figure out the technician’s vague explanations, and the internet, where I could have gotten information, was still in its infancy. And so, I pretty much wasted every film that I loaded, except for a few frames (see below) that were complete determined by luck. As soon as I started, I had already given up.
Ten years later, January 2008; I chanced upon a television segment featuring psychedelic photos that I thought were edgy, dark, and unconventional. I fixated my attention to it and learned that it was a product of a spontaneous type of photography, which used what I perceived to be obsolete film cameras. I really thought film was dead! That would make this kind of photography a zombie of sorts. I intently waited to hear what this movement is called. Finally, the person explaining said the word that would forever change my life: “Lomography.”
In the next few weeks, I tried to read as much as I could about lomography; learning about its history, terminologies, processes and techniques. Most of all, I just stared at cameras; lots of them. I was a bit overwhelmed to find out that there were so many to choose from.
In the end, as most of us did, I settled for the Holga 120N. This camera is a common choice for fist timers, and I am not sure if we all had the same reasons. Well, here are mine:
1. It’s affordable;
2. It’s totally unconventional given that it is medium format and that it has a square frame;
3. The vignette it produced; and
4. It just seemed to have a very strong cult following.
Together with it, I also bought 2 rolls of Velvia ISO 50.
For my first roll, I knew that at ISO 50, it would require lots of light. But what I thought was enough light, was still not enough, hence my first mistake. Luckily, the results were not as bad as to discourage me entirely. I thought that was the only camera I would need; I was wrong. Over the span of that year, I would amass roughly around 10 cameras, and a healthy supply of film. Through constant practice, my skills also developed; learning when and how to shoot, given certain circumstances.
After almost 5 years, it still feels the same. The vigilance in examining my surrounding as a looking for a moment, the child like excitement in waiting for the rolls to be processed, and the joy of seeing a piece of time frozen in a frame. I will end by share some of my favorite, yet less popular lomographs.