For this new series, I’m looking for scientist lomographers in the community. I’ll try to let you get to know them better through a series of interviews and their favorite photos.
Name: Desiree Seusy aka Dio Maxwelle
Location: San Jose, California
Occupation: After-school science teacher, otherwise called a Mad Scientist!
Let’s start with an easy one. How did you begin with lomography?
I originally had an interest in photography as a teen, but did little more than play with disposables and my father’s Canon EOS. When I got to college, I tried a few photography classes, and enjoyed them immensely. I was given a Holga sometime in 2006 after a friend told me about them, but it sat on a shelf until I had a sort of rough patch in my life. I went out, bought some film, had them developed at a local shop, and rekindled my love for taking analogue pictures. Since then, my camera collection has grown to include Brownies, Polaroids, and other fun cameras like the ActionSampler and my first DIY Recesky.
As for science, did you know as a child that your place was in the lab?
I actually have a BA in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing! But, I used to volunteer with an engineering camp for a non-profit organization, and fell in love with not only helping young women get interested in sciences and engineering, but making a difference in young peoples’ lives. I got a job with Mad Science of the Bay Area, which teaches after-school programs and summer camps for K-5. Working with children and teaching them how awesome science is really amazing. Every day, even I learn something new; when I learn new lesson plans, I always have my mind blown. I’ve made slime and putty, built model rockets, and find new chemical reactions that always show me how wonderful and mysterious our world is.
Tell us about your daily life. Have you ever taken your cameras to school or to your workplace?
Working in after-school programs leaves my days pretty open in the morning (but in the summer, I’m pretty busy morning to the late afternoon!). I spend a lot of time with my family, especially my dog Cody, whom is a star in my LomoHome. He’s got such a personality, though most of the time, its rather unimpressed with all the funny boxes I chase him around with! I don’t usually take photos at work (my hands are always busy), but I do know there is a lesson plan that talks about cameras! I can’t wait until i get to that one. I used to be the head photographer of the non-profit engineering camp, using the photos and short movie clips to make videos that documented the camp.
Have you dared to do some crazy experiments with your cameras and films, inspired by a topic you have worked on?
Not yet, though I have wondered about maybe photographing some of the experiments with different cameras to see what I can catch; I would love to use an Oktomat, for example, to see if I can catch rocket launches or some of the dry ice experiments! I also want to see if I can use some of the lenses from the light defraction glasses we give out to kids over one of my cameras.
Whether it was done in a lab or not, can you show us your most scientific and experimental picture?
I don’t know about scientific, but I wanted to do something with these dead Polaroids I rescued from my great-grandfather’s Polaroid camera. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen when I started taping and gluing things to an old instant photograph, but it kinda looks neat. It was a fun experiment I’d like to try again, with actual pictures. What I would really love to try to do is the blurry, melting Polaroid look that Peter Gabriel’s 1980 album had as a cover.
Now, let’s get a bit philosophical. What connection do you see between science and analogue photography – apart from the chemistry of developing?
It’s all about light. How light is bouncing off objects, into the lens, onto film that captures that moment forever. There’s a sort of defiance of linear, always moving time when you snap a picture. You’ve stopped that one moment forever, and you’ve stopped it using light itself. I think it’s fascinating how one can manipulate light through sciences like optics to do beautiful, artistic things, and especially in analogue, where there aren’t pixels to get in your way. Without light and chemistry, you couldn’t have cyanotypes or other alternative print methods, or even analogue prints (heck, you even need light to use a scanner to digitize your negatives).
Finally, do you have any other analogue hobby?
Oh, I have tons! I love listening to music, so I’ve started to look into buying vinyls of albums I love (Daft Punk is at the top of my list to own all the vinyls of!). I also do a lot of drawing, mostly pen and ink with markers and pencils, because I still don’t know how to draw digitally. I also paint in watercolor, acrylic and oil. I love making things like jewelry (I sell scrabble tile pendants and antique key necklaces), and even sew costumes, stuffed toys and sew old t-shirts into new outfits (I’m really into t-shirt deconstruction). I love cooking with my dad, who is worried I may not know enough recipes before I move out! I’m also doing a lot of Postcrossing, so I’m always on the lookout for nice postcards and writing them to friends all over the world.