Photographer Drew Rhodes explored the Southwestern States of America, using the Lomo Purple and Turquoise film to capture brilliant colors and saturation.
Hello, Drew! Welcome back to the Lomography Magazine. Please tell us a bit about yourself.
Thanks! I’m a writer, photographer, magnet for chaos, and possible secret demi-god of all things odd and abstruse from Sacramento, California.
What draws you to photography?
Steve McCurry once said, “My life is shaped by the urgent need to wander and observe, and my camera is my passport.” I can’t think of anything more accurate to describe what I want out of life than that, except that I also like writing stories. That’s where I’m happiest- wandering around strange new lands, meeting new people, exploring the stories I can find and moments I can capture. Everything else in my life is just waiting in line until I can ride that roller-coaster again.
What keeps you shooting film instead of switching over to digital full time?
I like the mystery of film. When I’m traveling, I know there’s a lot more risk involved with shooting film- there’s airport x-ray machines, moisture, being exposed to heat or light, and the anxiety of not knowing if you got the shot or not. But I find my adventures are a lot more interesting if I’m not constantly chimping everytime I take a shot. I’d rather stay there, focused in that moment, instead thinking about the moment that just passed.
Speaking of adventures, you recently took a road trip through the American Southwest to photograph some desert topography. Could you tell us about it?
I love the desert landscape and find it such a peculiar and esoteric place. I wanted to really explore it, so I loaded my old Subaru Outback with my camera gear, camping equipment, my dog, and some beef jerky, and drove for several days. I slept in the back of my car at night, spooning with my dog under a sleeping bag for warmth, as it often got below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. In the morning, I got moving before dawn to find my next shoot, hiking and shivering through the cold gusts of desert air, setting up my tripod with pink, frozen fingers to get those good sunrise light shots.
I visited Death Valley, Zion, Bryce Canyon, The Grand Canyon, and Joshua Tree National Parks, as well as a bunch of random places along my wandering, unplanned 2500 mile route. One of my favorites was this little ghost town called Nothing. There was nothing there. Literally.
Shooting Lomochrome Purple and Turquoise seems to give your photographs a painterly quality. What was your approach to shooting with these two films?
With Lomochrome Turquoise, you have to think in terms of a binary. It’s like black and white film: your photos are going to turn out different shades of copper and turquoise. Blue in real life becomes copper in the print, and everything else, turquoise. So in order to have a good balance, you have to find pictures with a good amount of blue in them. That’s why I used it for landscape photography. I really hope Lomography produces this film again- it’s one of my favorites.
With the new formula Lomochrome Purple, I didn’t think that the deseret landscape would be greatly changed by the film, because Lomochrome Purple in my experience, doesn’t have a dramatic effect on light colors such as white or beige. I was curious how I could draw out its properties more if I shot things with a yellow or green filter. The green filter turned out not great, but I got some really cool shots using a yellow filter. They turned out much granier looking than the film normally shoots, but I liked it. They give the shot’s surreal colors a kind of aged and vintage look that lends well to their post-apocalyptic feel.
I occasionally shot both films with a Circular Polarizer, which works great to darken the sky with Lomochrome Turquoise and bring out a nice coppery color, but it was too much with the Lomochrome Purple and the yellow filter. Next time I shoot it in those situations, I’m going to use one or the other, but not both at the same time.
What attracts you to the colors of those two films and their outcomes?
I like photographs that look like dreams. That capture something ephemeral. I’m not really interested in photographs that reflect reality. I like weird photos. I know with Lomochrome films I’m getting something different. I don’t want a photo that looks like a million other photos. When I’m shooting with the Lomochrome films, I know that a lot of times, I’m the first person ever to create a photo like that. I’m showing people something they’ve never seen before.
You seem to be drawn to the wreckage of old cars. What intrigues you about them?
It’s not so much about old cars, but rather the ruins of a time gone by. I wanted to explore the desert- all of it. Jagged, saw toothed mountains and plants that look more at home in a Doctor Seuss book than in real life. Things ever covered in spikes. Rock formations that seem straight from another world. I wanted to take all that and amplify it with the two films. For me, the human marks on the landscapes are just as important a part of the topography as the natural landmarks. And the ruined automobiles in particular, they give that desolation a very “Americana” kind of post-apocalyptic feel. It’s like, you can drive through the desert and see where America’s love affair with the automobile died. There’s something poetically macabre about it.
What advice would you give to people trying out this kind of film?
Buy it while you can. It doesn’t stay on the shelves long.
Also, I know this breaks the “don’t think, just shoot” rule, but this film is special and you should do something special with it. I picked up my rolls of Lomochrome Turquoise in Paris in June. I actually flew there from Edinburgh just to pick it up. It was the first time I’d seen it available in months and the last time I would again. I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t buy out their entire supply- all four rolls. I waited to use it until I had a truly special project in mind. One that would really take advantage of its abilities. What you see is the fruits of that patience and I’m really proud of it. I hope, if you shoot the film, you can get a similar feeling.
What's next for you?
My work is going to be exhibited at Old Soul at the Weatherstone on February 10th in Sacramento, California. If you’re around, you should check it out! All the photos are printed directly on aluminum and the sheen of the metal gives the photos an even more strange, alien quality. My work with also be featured on the cover of The Blue Earth Review, the official literary magazine of Minnesota State University, Mankato. Finally, my prints are also going to be featured at the Lomography Gallery in NYC on March. We'll have the opening on March 29th! I’m really excited about my trip up there and displaying my work. Looking forward to also shooting some street photography while I’m in the Big Apple.
Finally, I’m going to be flying to London in June for a photography project, and traveling throughout Europe. I’m going to be shooting only film again, and look forward to playing more with Lomochrome Purple!
Where can people keep up with your work?
If you want to keep up with my adventures (or, more honestly, misadventures), you can check out my Instagram or website which has hilarious stories, news about upcoming shows, camera, film, and travel related reviews, and a store for buying real nice prints of my work!
Stop by our Lomography Gallery Store NYC on March 29th for the opening of Drew's exhibition. More Info to follow on our Facebook page
written by sarahlindsayk on 2018-02-05