What do you get when you combine Lomography’s Golden Rules, a Leica M4-2 and the Minitar-1 Art Lens? Sharp details and a certain kind of magic. Austin-based student and photographer Brian McGloin tells us the details.
Hi Brian. Please introduce yourself to the Lomography Community.
My name is Brian McGloin. I created my Lomohome in 2002. I don’t remember how I actually heard of Lomography, but the basic ideals of Lomography and the Golden Rules have been part of my personality since I was a child, so imagine my glee in discovering Lomography amid a sea of overly-serious dullards and boring nonsense. I’m a firm believer in maintaining creativity, an alternate look at things and a sense of humor. The Golden Rules mesh nicely with Burning Man’s 10 Principles (I get them a little mixed up sometimes).
It wasn’t until a rainy South by Southwest in 2011 that I was able to buy my LCA+, new, in the short-lived Lomography shop in Austin.
How did you become a photographer and how would you describe your style?
When I was in high school I saw a newspaper photographer at some event whilst in an art class — or that’s how I remember it, I graduated in 1992 — and the call of an unused darkroom in one of the art classrooms. I always wanted to be a journalist, even before I knew what that was, and the world of photojournalism, with its mix of storytelling, chemistry, craft and creativity; I knew it was for me.
My style of photography leans heavily toward journalism and documentary — no crooked HDR pictures, no multi exposures, I do almost no post-production or creating pictures after. However, I’m not anywhere near as rigid and stuffy as that seems; I used to always have a Holga whilst on assignments (I traded that for a Wai Wai with a guy named Mickey in New York who makes pinhole photos out of film canisters). I always have an LCA+ with me and I was especially chuffed to have that Minitar on my Leica.
How do you like our new lens?
I used it on a Leica M4-2. I liked to joke it was a Very Serious German Camera with a non-serious lens.
The lens is much more robust that I thought it would be. I was curious about the lens, but I have to admit I thought I could buy a second LCA+ for the price of the lens.
The Minitar A-1 all brass, aluminum and glass — it has a heft to it that is very reassuring. I think the only plastic thing was the tip of the aperture lever. Even the lens cap was metal, and it screwed in tightly.
Having a rangefinder-coupled 32mm lens that also has zone focus and is about the size of a lens cap is phenomenal, especially with the curiously good glass and coatings. However, it still has a bit of Lomography magic and yields images that are slightly not quite right, but in the best possible way. On the other side of that, it is also a very good lens for candid portraits, travel and just normal pictures. It’s a very solid lens.
Can you tell us a bit more about the pictures you took?
Most of my time with the lens was spent in class, so I have a lot of one campus building and surrounding area. It’s a repurposed shopping mall, so it has some crazy architecture and good light.
My time with the lens happened to overlap with a planned trip to Florida to visit my ailing mother; she died before my wife and I arrived, so that trip became something different, more financial planning, lawyers, cleaning and memorial services. I took fewer pictures (I planned to continue the feature I started in 2013 about her) but what I did shoot was mostly at Atlantic beach and some enterprise pictures around Boca Raton.
Then Thanksgiving came up. It was damp and rainy and around 10 degrees or something in Austin. I decided to do a 40k bike loop around Austin, touching as little pavement as possible. It was over wet sand on a swollen creek, up muddy hills though thorns, over rocks, climbing over fences..I had the lens with me, mounted on the Leica. I kept it in a Revelate Feedbag attached to the stem, fork and handlebars. When it was raining hard, I kept the camera and lens (and tightly attached lens cap) in a plastic bag when not using it.
The size, construction and durability of the lens made it perfect to stash without worrying about breaking it. I found the 32mm focal length to be perfect for travel and adventure pictures, and everything else. Nothing I shot was set up. I didn’t go out on “photo walks” or do anything specifically for a picture. What I shot are things I thought looked interesting. Often I didn’t think, I just shot.
Please share your favorite Minitar shot and the story behind it.
That’s a tough one. Maybe the picture on Deerfield Beach in Florida, because it doesn’t look at all like a Lomography shot. It shows what the lens and cheap film can produce if one is trying. Or not trying. The picture also happens to be my wife and it shows good out-of-focus areas, sharp details, very little distortion. She wasn’t posing. The small size of the lens (and near silence of the Leica) makes quick candid shots easy.
Do you have any advice or suggestions for new or future Minitar-1 users?
If you have the means, buy the lens. It’s durable and has that Lomography magic combined with stellar quality and usability. Don’t be afraid of breaking it, don’t use it only for special projects. Beat the hell out of it, take a zillion pictures, go on adventures, make art, learn the rules and promptly break them.
What would you like to use the lens for in the future?
Travel and adventure. We have a trip to Iceland and Amsterdam coming up soon. I plan to return to my favorite city, New York, for a few months before Burning Man — I plan to buy a black Minitar Lens soon.
Further along, I plan to do some bikepacking trips like the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route and the Trans-America Trail, in addition to shorter routes. I’m thinking of hiking all or part of the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails. Photography goes hand in hand with bike touring (off road and on road), trekking and other adventure and this wonderful little gem is perfect for that.
See more of Brian McGloin’s photos in his LomoHome.