Coming from a family of artists, community newcomer Montague Fendt got acquainted with the art of image-making at an early age. What started out as a simple means to record memories, his passion for photography turned into a career as a director for advertising, documentaries, and independent movies.
Name: Montague Fendt
Location: Beijing, China
Please tell us something about yourself and what you do.
My name is Monty, I was born in Basel, Switzerland in 1983. I grew up in a family of artists and art lovers which was fantastic, being surrounded by paintings and travel a lot to interesting places and infamous museums. I never had a gene for painting but photography intrigued me from an early age. I was about 13 when I received a Canon AE-1 from my mom and mostly used it to shoot pictures of my friends skateboarding. Photography was always passion and hobby but just a tool to capture the world around me and craft my own visual memories, I never thought about making it my profession, it was just a natural thing that I loved doing. Over the years my focus shifted to moving images and after I studied film history at the University of Zurich with a minor in sinology I moved to China for an exchange year in 2003. Coming from quiet Switzerland I was shocked, inspired and intrigued in same measure and ended up staying in Beijing for most of the years since. I now work as a director for advertising, documentaries and the odd indie film.
How did you find the Community and who/what convinced you to join?
By complete chance! I was about to drop off a few rolls of film at the Lomo store in Beijing when a local kid inside asked for my LomoHome name. I had no idea what a LomoHome was so he showed me the website and I signed up. Unfortunately, I still don’t know the kid’s name nor his account, he left before I finished signing up. I’m sure I’ll see him around next time I develop films or maybe he reads this and we can connect.
As you have read the 10 Golden Rules of Lomography, what rule do you apply in your everyday life?
Probably rule number 4 – The shot from the hip. For 90% of all my photography I use two lenses, a 50mm or a 21mm. That’s the angles I grew fond of over the years and the way I see the world. These two lenses usually do it all for me: framing, feeling, landscapes, portraits. The 21mm has a field of view of about 90 degrees, an angle very easily determined without having to look through the viewfinder. Combined with the very deep depth of field, it is fantastic to get right into a situation and quickly point and shoot before the magic’s gone. Or having it casually hanging around your neck, prepare the focus and exposure, analyze the situation in front of you and capture it without anyone ever see it coming.
In this digital age, why still film?
Tangible texture, beautiful softness in the shading of light, grain structures, little imperfections, full of character right off the bat. It is also perfect for the way I approach photography personally. I tend to only ever take one picture of an occurring scene. I take pride and pleasure in knowing my camera, my film stock and usually have a good idea on how I set my exposure the second I walk into a space. When I see the moment I love, I take the picture. One shot usually is enough, especially as I embrace little flaws and mistakes, it just adds some character. I also embrace the restrictions that come with shooting on film, sometimes having to live with a 3200ISO film on the beach or a 50ISO film at night, gets one to be creative. And I’m lost on digital cameras. I end up with 50 photos a day from which I end up deleting 49. On film I might only shoot 3 photos but usually end up loving them for years to come.
Your favorite analog camera as of the moment? Why?
Ricoh GR21. It’s a GR1s with a 21mm lens. The lens is fantastic, the autofocus quick and reliable, the light meter spot on. And the thing looks stylish too. I really recommend this camera for any sort of street and reportage photography. It’s this little unsuspicious point and shoot thing, no one will be alarmed or intimidated by it and you end up with killer shots.
What is the Lomography camera you’d want to have someday?
Probably an LC-Wide with a Splitzer. I see so many cool compositions and creative use of the splitzer, combined with the very distinct LC-A look, that’s something i’d love to try out one day.
Any song, book, or movie you live by?
My favorite book is 1984 by George Orwell. Melancholic anti-hero in a dystopian world finds love and fights the oppressing society, great stuff. It’s not a book I live by but rather live IN. Being in China for almost 14 years, it is somewhat scary how many similarities you find to the book. My dream and long term project is to one day shoot a modern Beijing version of 1984.
As for movies, that’s a tough one. My life revolves so much about them and I have favorite movies of each genre, style, decade, format, the list would last forever. As a visual artist I naturally prefer films with stunning cinematography, like the work of Emmanuel Lubezki, Robert Richardson, Roger Deakins, Vittorio Storaro, Hoyte Van Hoytema and hundreds more.
Share your current favorite Lomograph, could be yours or a friend’s. Why?
They are all kids to me, some uglier than others, some smarter and some a bit dumb but I still love them all the same. And as with everybody, I’m sure it also changes a lot from time to time. One month i’m a sucker for landscapes and then again portraits, it’s hard to call. One that I always liked no matter what is this one:
‘XUE’ is Chinese for snow. I was at a friend’s party in Tokyo when a sudden snowstorm hit. We were on a penthouse balcony with an amazing view on Shinjuku. I wanted to capture the cityscape but my LC-A had a flash in the hot shoe that was switched on by accident. It ended up being all about the snowflakes lit by the flash, very magical. I guess that belongs under rule number 8 (You don’t have to know beforehand what you captured on film)!
Any Community member you look up to? If so, why him or her?
I have only been stalking LomoHomes for a few days now, however I stumbled upon the profile of @tobyharvard and loved it instantly. Grainy, out of focus elements, neon lights, mixed up color temperatures, cities at night. Very cinematic stuff and scenarios where film really shines. He has a great eye and his work reminds me of a dirtier version of a Nicolas Winding Refn film, and you know that’s a good thing!
What are you looking forward to in our Community?
I am looking forward to stay inspired! As a hobby I race motorcycles in China’s national super-bike league. It is a raw and brutal sport and also very visual. Bright coloured bikes, a rider’s concentrated eyes before the race, the pressure, the tools, girls, gas and smoke. Then there’s the speed aspect, motion blur. All makes for good photography and I have been working on a series about it for a while now. I’ll start posting a few first ones soon!
Thank you Monty for sharing your thoughts with us! Welcome to the community and we’re looking forward to seeing your future work!