The Lomography Community is one of the biggest social hubs for all things analogue and film photography. Over the years, it has gathered some of the best independent artists we've seen grow. Julija Svetlova, a.k.a. neja is such talent, and we're glad to see her Lomographs now available in print form.
With the help of Blurb, the self-publishing platform, Julija has created several photographic books. Her first photo book published was Holga, a book dedicated to her own journey with her first-ever camera won on the Lomographic Society International's website back in 2003: "...I took it [the Holga] everywhere, from Russia to South Africa, from Valencia to London and everywhere in between. Holga taught me that I did not necessarily need an expensive camera in order to make beautiful photographs. In my opinion, it was a square format miracle, so colorful and full of life. ‘Holga’ was actually the only book that I sold copies of, about 20 or so. It was also immediately picked by Blurb as their Staff Pick. I was very pleased."
Among her books, A Point of View: Venice, Double Up and Ages Ago were some of her book projects that piqued our interest. Double Up is made up of double-exposure photographs she took of her dancer friend over a period of time. Most of them were taken on the river Thames during the low tide. The project was short-lived but its outcome remained some the most treasured part of Julija's photographic legacy and so she decided to turn it into a small photographic book.
Ages Ago, on the other hand, was a commissioned project. It all began when her partner found a bunch of damaged slides in his family home in Ireland. The photos from the O'Rourke Family archives dated from 1960 to 1980s and were all shot in Ireland. She performed a strenuous task of extracting the slides from the frames, and then scanning and retouching them from the molds, scratches, and cracks giving the pile a fresher look. After that, they sequenced the pictures and then Julija put the book together for printing. The copies were eventually given to many members of the O'Rourker family, including his late father.
An avid traveler and always with camera in her hand, Julija aspires to experience the places that she visits from unusual perspectives. With Venice being her favorite, she visits at least once a year. _ A Point of View: Venice_ provides a viewer with a different look on canal city. Julija described the concept of this book as following, "Venice, one city, two days, three rolls of film and one major accident." It is a book that specifically expresses her artistic vision of Venice. We love how this wonderful series was born out of accidents. A Point of View: Venice is a testament to all the good things that come from the most unexpected places.
"On our last trip, we decided to stay on the island of Giudecca and therefore managed to visit all sorts of places that we haven’t been to before, including the bell tower of San Giorgio Maggiore Church. I took many photos, three rolls to be precise, but when upon returning home and developed the films, I was shocked to see a crooked black line crossing all the shots. After giving it some thought I realized that due to some bizarre accident one of the camera’s shutters was broken and wasn’t opening properly, which resulted in parts of the frames not being exposed. To be honest, initially I was very upset but then I had a eureka moment of a sort and turned this accident into a concept. I decided to blow most pictures into double spreads and also leave some pages black. When the first copy of the book arrived, I couldn’t have been happier, it looked stunning as 'the accident' turned into something that looked deceivingly intentional. Out of many books I have done, this is my partner’s favorite. I often give copies as a present to my friends and everyone seems to love it."
Her visual travelogues of Japan, Venice, the French Pyrenees, and the Basque country can now also be seen and flipped through in Konnichiwa, La Serenissima and A Point of View Vol. 2, respectively. Birdwatcher's Notebook is a splendid take on one of art and science's favorite form of nature observation and hobby, through analogue means.
Nothing's more admiring than an artist pursuing their goals and putting their work outside their comfort zones for everyone to see. We hope to see more of her future projects printed again!