From South Jersey to Australia, and finally, in Hawai'i, Alexandra Bennett has been chasing the perfect wave from a very young age. After spending her summers at the beach in South Jersey where she grew up, it was evident for her that the surfing lifestyle was her definition of freedom. Backpacking in Australia after she graduated from college only confirmed that evidence and she now works as a Medical Assistant in Hawai'i where she surfs every day. A year later, when she had tamed the waves and was comfortable enough with the crowd, she brought her camera along for the ride.
"With the rise of digital media, there has been an increase in the demand for perfection. In analog photography, there is a cap on the amount of photos you can take per film roll and therefore, less emphasis on getting a perfect shot."
Who better than Alexandra to test out our Simple Use Reloadable Camera with its Underwater Case. Her films transported us out in the crystal clear water of the pacific, with fun selfies post-snorkeling, and a sea-turtle gracefully posing for her cameras. We talked to Alexandra about her relationship with analogue photography and her first impression of the Underwater Case.
Hey Alexandra! It's great to have you back here at Lomography! First off, can you tell us how did you get into photography?
In the 8th grade, I went to Philadelphia with my sister to thrift shop. I felt very cool that she invited me and borrowed my mom’s Minolta 35mm camera to document the trip. Holding the camera made me feel safe in the big city because I could look through the lens and create my own perspective. Since I was still a novice, I had improperly loaded the camera and when I went to develop, I lost all of the photos. The only pictures from that day were the ones that my sister took on her Holga camera. My sadness soon turned to excitement when I saw her photos. I couldn’t wait to load another roll of film and try again!
Why do you choose to shoot analog?
With the rise of digital media, there has been an increase in the demand for perfection. In analog photography, there is a cap on the amount of photos you can take per film roll and therefore, less emphasis on getting a perfect shot. For me, shooting film is about relaxing, getting creative, and having fun. An added bonus: when people ask to see their photo, I apologize and explain that it will take a few weeks to develop the film - no more “can you retake it” moments!
What gear do you usually shoot with?
I always pack my Lomography Fisheye No.2 because of the camera’s lightweight body and versatility. Then I choose from one of my more traditional 35mm cameras to fill in the rest. I prefer to shoot with color, film, especially when shooting in Hawai’i, one of the most colorful places in the world.
Could you describe a day in the life of a surfer/photographer?
I wake up and check the swell and wind direction online and by looking at the leaves on the palm trees. I get to the beach anywhere between dawn and 10 am, say good morning to all the uncles hanging out in the parking lot, and watch the waves for a few minutes. After I assess the surf and my energy level, I say a prayer and paddle out. Then I come home, eat a lot of food, take a nap, then go back out with my camera. I prefer to take surf pictures in the late afternoon for higher color saturation. As the sun sets, people gather in the parking lot or around a beach bonfire to share stories of their most memorable waves that day.
What do you like to shoot?
I love to photograph people having fun! People tend to give more weight and attention to the negative. I want to photograph moments of comfort and joy, which are often gone too fast and overlooked.
How was the underwater case for the Simple Use Camera? Was it easy for you to use, and adjust to the camera?
It was very easy to use. I opened the package right at the beach and started shooting underwater within minutes.
My favorite aspect is how lightweight it is compared to my bulky digital camera’s underwater housing.
This is especially useful when dodging bigger waves or going for a longer snorkel.
What tips would you give out to people who want to use it?
I recommend adding a few packets of silica gel between the back of the camera and the housing. The packets absorb moisture and prevent any chance of the camera lens getting foggy. Once the camera is in the underwater case, take a few test shots on land. It’s important to make sure the shutter button and film advance wheel have clicked properly into place.
In what contexts do you see yourself using this camera?
I would use the Simple Use Camera in a setting with lots of natural light or with a close subject. The flash and attached multicolor gel filters could really spice up a party or night out.
Do you have a favorite picture? Could you tell us the story behind it?
My favorite picture is of the turtle with a reddish hue. In the days leading up to this photo, the weather had been raining non-stop and the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing. I felt sad and scared. Then, the Governor of Hawai’i issued a statement declaring swimming and surfing as essential activities. I excitedly packed my snorkel and the Simple Use Camera with the underwater case and drove to a secluded beach.
I finally felt at peace as I watched the fish swim around. They had no cares or worries about the pandemic us humans were facing. On my way back to shore, I encountered a turtle floating at the surface. The turtle kindly let me hang out long enough to capture this photo before swimming away gracefully. I used the flash with a red gel filter to give a contrasting pop of color against the blue ocean background. Overall, the experience gave me hope that I will someday go about my daily life as fluidly as this reptile.