His burning passion for analogue photography goes beyond his strong words and into his creative photographs. Let’s find out more about bernardjoy-dones and his First Lomo Affair with a Holga 120 CFN!
Name: BJ Dones
Location: Makati City, Philippines
Please tell us more about yourself.
I am an architect and a proud and open homosexual. I am a cultural activist that struggles for National Democracy and the rights of the oppressed farmers and workers in my country. I like crafty stuff and things with vintage feel.
When was your first try of a Lomography camera or film? What product was it?
Since I was in elementary school, my mother already encouraged me to try and use our point and shoot film camera (there were no digital cameras then). It became my prelude to Lomography. I would save money to buy film and have it developed. Back then, it would cost a hundred pesos (about $2) for the film, processing, and printing. There were developing studios almost everywhere.. those were the days! Growing up almost killed my creative pursuit for film photography. But, there came a certain day in August 2011 that events seemed so synchronized and focused on lomography, a term I had never encountered before filling my ears that day. Curiosity had me agitated on what this hype was all about. And then lo and behold, I felt like meeting an old lover with a promising renewal of passions.
Was the Lomography product yours or did you borrow it from a relative or friend?
It was like destiny that I bought my first Lomography camera from the first friend I asked about lomo. He happened to own one but he never had the chance to use it again. It was a CMYK Holga 120 CFN. Its condition was good and it is still complete with box and accessories. I thought of it as a roughly made toy from China. It is very reminiscent of my childhood, far from the serious photo inclinations brought upon by the advent of digital SLRs.
You see, since DSLRs are very much available now in the market, anyone who has the capacity to own one, immediately brags about being a photographer, but I beg to differ. I told myself, I am not a photographer, I am a Lomographer. This differentiated us from the the rest of the shutter people whether pro or whatnot.
How was the experience upon using it? Any funny or strange occurrences?
I was accustomed to using 35 mm films when I was younger so the 120 format film used for Holga was a big excitement for me. The film was hard to find and a bit costly.
I was not immune to the usual fear any noob lomographer has. I was thinking about a lot of things. Is this still working? Would a single shutter be enough to take the picture? Am I wasting a good fortune for buying a camera and an expensive film? And oh god, people are giving me strange looks for taking photos using a colorful toy camera that clicks and winds manually. Using it also made me conscious about the distance of subjects from me. I would say that I became versed with estimating the distance at a glance (a skill I find useful in my architectural side). And the anticipation of how the pictures would turn out got me perturbed more that anything else.
Have you used that Lomography product again? Why or why not?
Of course! My first roll got me even more excited to use it again. I noticed how it works and operates. As much as possible, I try to remember the conditions to get a well-balanced shot. I became addicted to the modifications and tricks used in Holga. I would search for new ways and try them as much as I can. I even bought three more cameras after that.
Can you share with us your favorite or most memorable shot from that First Lomo Affair of yours? Why is this your favorite?
My first roll was a mess but a beautiful one that is! I would have junk the idea of it if not for the supportive guys from Lomomanila, a group of lomo enthusiast here in the Philippines. They saw something from my Holga shots which convinced me to see things not as they are but as something that tell stories.
I came to appreciate my pictures, owing it to the process of film photography. My favorite among my first shots was the long exposure of the Quezon Memorial Circle in Diliman. During that time, I would always pass by that same landmark without even putting too much attention to it. But the idea that nothing is permanent made me decide to take a picture of it. I was thinking, the monument has always been there, but would it still be there tomorrow if an earthquake decided to destroy it? Or would it still stand tall even if zombies start roaming the land? Haha. Lomography really gets me into the what ifs of the world. More than anything, it gives me tangible memories of what I have in mind when I took the picture.
How did it affect your love for Lomography/film photography?
Lomography since then became my freedom from the rigid world full of rules and norms. It offered me an alternative for my creativity and pleasure. And oh, I found new friends. :)