It all started with an old photo from my family’s past. Now, I’m in a hot pursuit of Lomographic adaptations to meet the challenges of a new environment!
In the photo were two young guys, unshaven, wearing large sunglasses. They were standing next to their brown, broken down truck in the middle of the Mojave Desert. The sun glinting off one of their sunglasses made a glare in the square exposure.
The guys were my dad and his brother. The photo was taken in 1968, and my Lomo story began when I found the camera that took that photo in my grandparents’ house. It was a Kodak Brownie Twin 20, made for 640 film. I took it apart a bit and realized that it was basically just a plastic box with a lens and a shutter. Simple. There was nothing stopping me from trying to run some 35mm through it, so I decided to give it a try. Some double-sided tape and a few rubber bands later, I was clicking away and the feeling hit me: “I have no idea if I’m winding this film far enough after each exposure. In fact, I’m not even sure if this focus ring works anymore or if the viewfinder is accurate. I don’t really know what I’m going to get back from this roll.”
I was hooked.
When I got the roll back, it was a collection of multiple exposures and partial overlaps. Some of them were pretty cool. In fact a friend organizing a local art exhibit asked to include one of the prints in the exhibit. At that point, I didn’t know about LSI or Superheadz. I didn’t even know about Holgas or Dianas or any other lo-fi legends. I would find all that later while looking for other people online playing around with plastic cameras.
Since then, my devotion to Lomography has been tested.
Now, I live in a country where it really doesn’t quite make sense to go analogue. There are no labs in the entire country of Cambodia equipped to process, scan or print 120 film. When I take 35mm film to a lab here in Phnom Penh to be processed, I can count on the negatives returning to me looking as if they’ve been wrapped around a rubiks cube for an entire day of puzzle solving.
There are no labs in Cambodia capable of printing anything analogue other than conventional 35mm exposures. Labs here routinely color correct and digitally manipulate every print to make the people’s skin in the photos appear whiter and for other reasons I have not yet learned. To obtain any image from the shots I take, I must scan each negative exposure using a lamp and a digital camera (thanks for the tipster, comezone).
It takes a little extra work, but I’m finding that tackling each challenge just makes me more excited about Lomography. On a recent trip to Bangkok, I bought a new Diana Mini. It was like Christmas! The little camera will go a long way in making lomography more do-able in Cambodia. Stay tuned for some new albums!