Community newcomer Bert Liang (@bcliang), has been practicing photography for over 45 years. He continues to learn from both digital and analogue image-making processes, but prefers the latter for the boundless experiments that can done with it. In this interview, he shares his insights on film photography and how it expanded his views on creativity.
Name: Bertrand (“Bert”) Liang
Location: San Diego, CA USA
Please tell us something about yourself and what you do.
I’m a medical researcher and I have been in image creation for over 45 years, since my twin brother and I saved enough money from our paper route to buy a used Nikon F and plastic development tank and reel. I have always been partial to film, and have added digital processing as well, and continue to try to learn from both. I still use my Durst enlarger for smaller format (35mm, 6x6cm), but also shoot 6x9cm, 24x65mm and 4x5inch which are contact printed and scanned.
How did you find the Community and who/what convinced you to join?
I’ve used Lomography film for years, and knew the story from my interest in old Russian rangefinders (I’m that old!). Frankly, I was intimidated by the numerous fantastic images I’d seen on the website, but after having some of my own images published, I thought I might be able to share my own on the site. I’ve been really impressed on how welcoming the community has been, and the broad range of artistic endeavors displayed. It’s such a wonderful aspect to have others who are interested in a common activity to be able to converse and share.
As you have read the 10 Golden Rules of Lomography, what rule do you apply in your everyday life?
Oh my gosh – for the most part they all do. Having a camera with me at all times has been my mantra for years. If cornered, I would have to say that it’s Rule No. 1 (Take your camera everywhere you go), 3 (Lomography is not an interference in your life, but part of it), and 10 (Don’t worry about any rules).
Capturing images is part of my active life and having done it so long I’m always learning and loving novel and new approaches to it. I’ve found that following artificial constraints designed by someone else is extraordinarily limiting with respect to creativity and pushing bounds. From using expired film when I was a teenager to cross processing to loading “wrong” film into other formats, or not using the “right” developer combination for a given film has widened my perspective a great deal, and given my courage to do and investigate other things in image creating, and life in general. Life imitating (and learning from) art, as others have noted.
In this digital age, why still film?
To paraphrase a sage teaching adage: “The process is the product.” Stimulating the cortical neurons to do something differently than what “everyone” else is doing creates a framework where vision can be expressed and expanded. Digital certainly has its merits, but the film medium forces a different mindset and exercises the mind in a different capacity, strengthening such capacity of creativity, like how the muscle is strengthened by resistance training. The pieces needed to create a film image is thus larger than the sum of its parts.
Your favorite analog camera as of the moment? Why?
To be somewhat trite and unoriginal, my favorite analogue camera is any one that I have with me loaded with film ready to capture the next image - whether one of my rangefinders, an SLRs or the large format field camera; whatever is there is what I’m happy with.
What is the Lomographic camera you’d want to have someday?
One thing I’ve tried to get more experience with is instant photography. I would love to experience any of the Lomography instant cameras someday. I’m fascinated by the medium and looking at the numerous captures from my colleagues and friends I’m itching to try it. Some of the most interesting images I’ve seen more recently are from this format.
Any song, book, or movie you live by?
How about a quote?
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” -Teddy Roosevelt.
This can be summarized as, “No one cares about the win-loss record of the referee.”
Share your current favorite Lomograph, could be yours or a friend’s. Why?
Here’s a favorite. Wonderful composition; combination of formats; creative use of color; the sprockets seem just right for activity of the shot. Fantastic!
Any Community member you look up to? If so, why him or her?
There are so many members that I admire and more that I learn from, just by viewing the images almost daily. The creativity here is inspirational for any of us who want to find new and different ways of expression. That’s the fantastic aspect of Lomography--we get to learn from one another every day just by viewing the efforts of others. Given the film community is somewhat specialized, it is truly an awesome opportunity.
What are you looking forward to in our Community?
I’m looking forward to continuing to learn from others, to be challenged by the new types of approaches and films available (I will be picking up some of the LomoChrome Purple 400 shortly!) and to be inspired by the images of others.
Thank you @bcliang for sharing your thoughts with us! Welcome to the Lomography community and we're looking forward to seeing more of your work!