Originally from Slovakia, Peter Berko is a freelance photographer currently based in Hong Kong. Intrigued by the uniqueness of Hong Kong's city landscapes, he shoots a lot of architecture and streets. We gave him a few rolls of LomoChrome Purple 35 mm Film to experiment with. Let's check out the nostalgic Hong Kong day and night-time scenes in great purple color.
Hello, Peter! Welcome to the Magazine. Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Hello and thank you, I'm glad to be part of the LomoAmigo project. I am a freelance photographer originally from the small country in the heart of Europe, from Slovakia. Now I am stationed in Hong Kong because of my family.
Tell us a bit about your photography background. What’s your story?
It is a long story but I will make it short – everything started when I was about four years old. I saw a movie on television wherein some part a photographer inside the darkroom dipped blank whitepaper into the water and suddenly a picture came out. That amazed me, it seemed to me like a miracle. I wanted to learn this magic instantly. I rushed to my room, tore the piece of paper from my exercise book, in the bathroom I dipped it to the water and waited for the picture to come out. Back then I believed that it is possible to depict some idea or picture on the paper without any intervention of technologies. The magic would not happen – it really made me sad – and that was the end of my photography beginnings. Later when I was 12 years old I made my way back to photography but this time it would be a more common story. Time passed and after years I had spent by exploring the art of photography I finally graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design.
Do you have a favorite photo?
Yes, there are some interesting photographs which I like and I find them inspiring. One of this inoperative work for me is work of German photographer Andreas Gursky. Especially his work called 99 cent. It became famous as being the most expensive photograph in the world when it was auctioned at Sotheby's in 2007 for a price of 3.34 million USD.
But what is for me interesting and inspiring is not the price but technological variant. The size and the detail of processing, similarly as it is when assessing the paintings. In this terms, photography is very often misunderstood as in these times of digital Internet we are used to seeing everything on a computer screen. But it is not real and photography must not be assessed according to this. I have seen this in another Gursky's work called Rhine II. The work was hugely criticized for how such a plain photography can be so insolently expensive. But it is the same with the paintings – people would be very surprised to see it live.
In an undeniably digital age, why do you choose to shoot film?
In my opinion, digital photography is closer to the painting than to photography. Analogue photography is an imprint – as a fingerprint. It can be considered as an immediate reference of a real world. The closest to this is black and white photography, despite and even in spite of the fact, that the world is full of colors. I like the most if I can work with black and white photography in the darkroom. I like black and white blow-ups because of their manual processing, quality, and durability.
What is your favorite subject or theme to shoot, and why?
To be honest, I don’t have any favorite subject or theme. My favorite topics change according to the situation I find myself in. Now I live in Hong Kong so my favorite theme is the city. I love Hong Kong for its structure, architecture and absolute uniqueness. It is amazing that 70% of the land is undeveloped. And the rest is incredibly stuffed with narrow streets and high buildings, skyscrapers that make me feel like I am living in a terrarium.
How was the experience with the LomoChrome Purple Film? Did you like it?
LomoChrome Purple Film is very specific photo material which produces very unrealistic looking pictures in purple tonality. Especially, interesting is that green color comes out as deep purple. I would say Lomochrome purple is a photographic material which has the potential to simulate infrared photography analogically but in color and without the use of any filters. I can imagine very interesting results by working with LomoChome purple. To me, it is not a material for everyday shooting. It is a photographic material that requires a thoughtful choice of the theme – that’s my opinion.
Any tips on working with the LomoChrome Purple Film?
I like the way how film works with a combination of green areas and grey or low colored concrete. The material is a bit contrasting, so I would recommend to give it slightly more light and to overexpose it. I've got nice results with night shots. At the same time, I am the most satisfied with them.
Why did you choose to present your work like this, how did you do it? Did you develop your own film?
I develop B&W films only. The trick of my presented photos is simple, it looks unusual, but it is very simple and ordinary. I’ve just chosen to digitalize negatives without using the scanner with Nikon DSLR camera and Nikon macro bellows PB-4. I like this option more than scanner because I am able to get more control over the exposure and white balance. The operation is flexible and much faster than using a scanner. It's fast as photography and the final look of pictures is bounded with a frame for which it resembles analogue photography.
What's coming up for you in the future? Any interesting projects or collaborations planned?
I have no planned cooperation but currently, I am working on a few projects of my own. They all deal with Hong Kong. After I finish or partially finish, I would like to present my work on exhibitions in galleries or something like this but I haven't planned anything yet. It is only in a preparation stage.