After 15 years making music, it's time for Nabil NEHME to channel his creative energy to a new hobby: film photography. In this interview, our Community newcomer from Paris, France opens up about how his own wedding paved the way for him to explore photography and why he still shoots the analogue way.
Please tell us something about yourself and what you do.
I work in IT for the banking industry. I have been drawn to music making and photography as a part time hobby. I spent the last 15 years exploring music making and it wasn't until my wife and I got married two years ago that photography revealed itself as the next hobby. It was the wedding photographer's whose photos we received made me realize that there was more to photography than just snapping selfies with one's phone. And so I decided to buy myself a digital SLR. It became my close companion. Making music had meant a lot of in-home moments, isolated with headphones on. Now the camera was pulling me back to the outer world.
Then one day my father saw me pointing the camera and said, "I too had a camera. you remember?" Indeed I do remember that camera and the last few photos my older brother took with it — that was 20 years ago. The photos came out with a weird pink stain, we all thought the camera was broken and had it stored in the closet for ever.
I dug my dad’s Canon EX Auto out of the closet, 20 years later that is. I snapped few shots to test the mechanics. It works! Now I needed film. To my surprise, I discovered that film hadn't vanished, better still, a wide community seems to have survived the decline of film. I found on the internet videos on how to develop film, advice on how to expose when shooting film and articles about hipster-looking vintage cameras.
And so I bought my first black and white film. Ilford HP5. I then bought the chemicals and decided I needed to develop this first roll by myself at home. It was true magic! Suddenly I was able to visualize the negatives of what I had taken few days earlier. The camera worked like a gem and I was now a certified magician who captures the world into camera and makes it appear on film few days later!
How did you find the Community and who/what convinced you to join?
After having developed few black and white films, I decided that the next attempt was for me to give color film a try. Developing it back home is a more complex process and so I started googling for a development service store in Paris.
Lomography store in the Marais area developed my first color film. That was my first encounter with Lomography as a shop and as a brand. I was checking the Lomography website every now and then, checking random articles about vintage cameras, and sample photos from people of the community. That is actually how I found out about the Lomography Color Negative F²/400 film. Very nice! I joined the community only recently. I was now ready to share my film photos I guess. Plus there is a competition about half frame photos, great timing.
As you have read the 10 Golden Rules of Lomography, what rule do you apply in your everyday life?
A lot of the Lomography rules are things I aspire for... I don’t think I’m there yet. I do believe I already apply the "Take your camera everywhere you go” rule. I often apply the "Approach the objects of your Lomographic desire as close as possible” rule.
The "Don't think" rule would be the holy grail and something I really aspire for. It's easier done with a digital camera I must admit, but with film... I need to think about every photo I take. Because to my mind film is precious and film is scarce so I’d better not waste a shot!
In this digital age, why still film?
It's the sum of imperfections, the grain, the softness, the unique and subjective color rendering… that gives to film its unique character. I guess it's like vinyl discs. Sounds gritty, takes up storage place and gets dusty over time, but it just feels so different.
I love the process around film as well. You snap a photo to immortalise the instant, seconds later and for days or weeks you have little memory of what that instant looked like nor how will it render on film. Only days or weeks later, when you pull off the film from the development reel, or from the store, that you actually discover what it was, and you get that smile on your face that says it all.
Your favorite analog camera as of the moment? Why?
The Olympus pen FT. The love for half frame cameras started two years ago when I stumbled upon a Lomography article I quickly bought an Olympus pen ee3. It is small, very easy to use, no need to focus, no need to adjust aperture nor shutter speed, just shoot. Recently I decided that I needed to kick off my own photography project. Taking photo sequences or panoramas seems so natural with half frames and so I decided to do sequential shots (two shots in a row) that would render symmetry and further geometric forms when put together. I needed better control over exposure for constant results and so I decided to upgrade to the Olympus pen FT.
What is the Lomography camera you’d want to have someday?
The Diana. Shooting film (as opposed to digital) is my way of seeing the world in lo-fi. I guess the Diana would be a step further into the lo-fi universe.
Any song, book, or movie you live by?
Share your current favorite Lomograph, could be yours or a friend’s. Why?
I have had little time so far and out of the photos I have liked, I think this one is my favourite. That is maybe because I’m looking forward to testing my first roll of LomoChrome Purple film any time soon.
Any Community member you look up to? If so, why him or her?
I like the work of @_baunovart_ and this photo is really cool:
What are you looking forward to in our Community?
I look forward to exploring more photos from people around the world. It’s always a source of inspiration.
The Lomography articles are as well source of inspiration to me. They sill surely inspire my next photography projects.
Welcome to the Lomography Community, Nabil!