Kristen Blanton and Matthew Jozwiak traded their home in Austin for the wild. Together, they created a wonderful outdoor photographic storytelling site, helloamericaphotography.com. Here’s Kristen to tell us more about the Lomo LC-A camera that they have been shooting with.
Name: Kristen Blanton
Location: The World
Gear: Lomo LC-A
Please tell us more about yourself and what inspired you to create a project like this.
I prefer Mexican food for every meal and would rather be outside instead of doing whatever I have to do most of the time. As a teen–if I think hard, I could even pen it before then–I wanted to travel America. I never had a desire to go to Europe. Or Asia. Or Africa. I wanted America and more specifically the American road where I didn’t stay in hotels or eat at luxurious restaurants. I wanted to live simple and right where I parked myself. When I graduated [from] college I moved to Austin and shot bands and music festivals for music publications, all the while plotting my way to make it around the country.
The inspiration for this kind of travel came from the place where most young Americans find inspiration: Whitman, Into the Wild, and “Thelma and Louise.” It also came from within. There was an itch I couldn’t scratch for a decade. When I decided to do Hello America, a moniker coined by the better half of Hello America, Matt Jozwiak, I finally felt relief in that gnawing itch. I had found my partner in travel and in life and together we hit the road for four months, 20,000 miles, documenting film all in an effort to share our experiences in book form.
How would you describe your photographic style in three words?
It is honest, raw, and young.
Why did you choose to shoot film?
I was interning with Paste Magazine during my senior year of college when I was put on assignment to photograph a band. I didn’t own and could not afford a digital camera so I used an old boyfriend’s hand-me-down Canon AE-1. I connected with the medium instantly and haven’t considered any other form since. That was in 2011.
Where does your inspiration come from?
For us, inspiration is in all things. Music, art, film, books. It comes from the land. It comes from the dirt that covers every damn inch of our bodies on our 12-mile hike through Big Sur. It comes from the high-liners we meet in Topanga Canyon. It comes from the stillness of a staring black bear crossing our trail. It comes in conversations with new and old friends. It comes in the mysticism of a starry night at Joshua Tree. It comes from the water. It comes from all things when we stop and listen. We’re trying to listen more.
How did you find the Lomo LC-A? What did you like most about this camera?
While studying at NYU in 2012, I took a part time job with Lomography. Lomography quickly became my home. The people, the mediums I had worked with and talked about everyday, the workshops I got by listening to my manager excitedly talk to a customer about a product—it was an education in itself. I have mad love for all things Lomography.
Where would you bring the Lomo LC-A to and what would you shoot with it?
I shoot everything with the LC-A. Each year I shoot SXSW in Austin and every time the LC-A is my go to. The artists love it. I love it. I do Day in the Life pieces where I follow the band around for X hours as they do interviews, rehearsals, grubs, live shows, [and] after parties. The LC-A is like a third eye. I can capture everything swiftly and efficiently. It fits in my pocket. That’s why I also loved it for Hello America. We were exposed to all the elements. I could keep it dry and clean. The lens is glass and gives the images a beautiful dreamscape effect. I believe the LC-A and I will have a long and fruitful relationship.
What do you like about analog photography and how does it differ from digital?
Digital photography is the way of the world. And I’m cool with that. It just won’t ever be the way of Hello Americas’ world. The chemistry, the happy accidents, the manipulation of film, the I-have-one-frame-left-to-capture-this-mountain-so-I-better-get-it-right does not exist in digital photography, and those are the things that made and still make me love photography. The “editing” process in analog begins before the shutter makes that musical “click.”
Analog and digital both have a place in this world. I like it that way. Our digital age demands that space and I say, “You go digital-computer world! Keep it coming. As long as you don’t put my Ektar out of business, you’re alright with me.”
What advice would you have for current or future Lomo LC-A users or young photographers?
Shoot everything. The LC-A/whatever camera you choose to use needs to be your new best friend/pet/baby brother/pair of shoes/song/boyfriend/girlfriend/Indiana Jones hat–it needs to go with you everywhere. Learn it. [Find out] how it works, what light it likes best, the ins and outs of its chemistry because once you do, it will never leave your side. You won’t want it to. If you really love the medium of picture taking, it will become a part of you. Let it. Let it sink in and bleed your colors. Let it remind you who you were and teach you who you are.
What do you love to do beyond photography?
Matt and I are both beach babies, so sailing is our focus this summer.