We are happy to introduce you to our Top 10 Interview with a Photographer Series! Meet Photographer #9 Ken Ku (aka hrh1002), who inspired the interviewer (nation_of_pomation) to take pinhole images, and learned a lot of technical aspects about photography too.
How did you get started in analogue photography and what about it appeals to you?
I first started in photography because I needed to. My parents had given me a camera and I wasn’t sure how to use it so I enrolled in a photography class in my high school so that I could learn the basics. As I became more advanced, I realized that I wasn’t really seeing the world. For a lack of a better word, I was vision impaired. The lens showed me the world: it showed me beauty in the decrepit, sadness in a face, and wonder in everyday life. It has taught me to really see the world with my eyes open.
What was the first analogue camera that was truly yours and how did you come about getting it?
Wow. [Thinking] Yes, the very first camera that I owned was a Nikon FE that my Dad had bought my Mom as a wedding anniversary gift from Tokyo. My parents no longer used the camera anymore so they passed it along to me, along with all the lenses they had acquired over the years. I was a naughty kid though. I jammed the shutter by pushing my finger through to see what the blades looked like and then it jammed. I had to spend hundreds of dollars to get that thing fixed! It lasted me through my graduation from high school, then promptly jammed again. This time I did NOT stick my finger in it. [Laughs]
What is your favorite toy/Lomo/vintage camera you’ve ever owned, and why?
My favorite toy/vintage camera. That’s a tough choice. Well, I guess it will have to be the Holga. It has served me fantastically well and created some amazing shots and traveled extensively with me. It is light, and easy to operate. Plus it shoots in a square format, my favorite, and the other little intricacies (light leaks, film back falling off, etc) just adds to the joy of using a Holga.
What is your favorite thing to do other than analogue photography?
There’s something other than photography? [Chuckles] I go on vacation a lot. To destinations all over the world if I can, when I can. If that isn’t possible right then, I get in my car and drive. I love to take adventures. You meet all sorts of wonder characters on the road. And some of the landscapes that you see out on the open roads at night, it takes your breath away. Expose there for an hour. You’ll be amazed at what you get.
What five things you always have with you when you’re shooting?
Hmmm…Five things I always have when I’m shooting. Well I never leave without my Holga, extra rolls of film, tripod. That’s only three. So I guess that’s it. I travel light. If I do have room, I will take my SX-70 and a couple cartridges of FTB (Fade to Black) and TZ Artistic. There you go, five items. [Smiles]
If someone off the street asks you, “Why analogue?” (or “What the hell is that thing you’re holding and why can’t I see the picture you just took?”), how do you respond?
I really like this question! Really, people have asked me. My response is always that I have nothing against digital photographers as I think it is a great tool to use. However it is so cold and calculated. Each pixel is in its precise place, in its given dimension. Analogue is soft, organic, flows, and it reacts with the air, the film, the chemicals. Each step is calculated risk you’re taking. This is taken for granted with analogue photography but very hard to reproduce in digital.
What inspires your photography, or what is it that drives you to shoot?
This is a very interesting question. I’m not sure I’ve exactly figured it out myself but in a nutshell beauty is what inspires me to shoot. There is beauty in everything, you just have to see it.
What is the one non-camera item that is essential to your photography?
I’d have to say my tripod. I rely on that thing more than almost anything I have. I take it with me everywhere. I’ve always been one to set up my shots, probably because for a long time I shot with a Mamiya RZ67. Those were not cameras you can easily shoot without a heavy duty tripod.
What is your favorite type of film, and why?
Favorite film. Well I have several actually. Transparency is what I typically like to shoot and I prefer Kodak Ektachrome EPP 100. The color isn’t as saturated as some of the newer films and has very fine grain. I love it for sunset/twilight portraits. However, it has been discontinued and Kodak predicts that they will run out of supply in early 2010. [Frowns]
Any advice you’d like to share that has helped you with your own analogue photography?
Experiment. That way you will be able to create something that is truly yours.
nation_of_ pomation’s LomoHome: http://lomography.com/homes/nation_of_pomation