Since the UK went into lockdown last year we've all become used to staying local and making the most of what's available on our doorstep, and this is something Yorkshire-based photographer Louise Westbrooke really has embraced. We talked to Louise about shooting with the LC-A 120 around the parks, cemeteries, and abandoned places in her local area and why she loves to shoot in medium format.
Hello Louise, welcome to the Lomography Magazine, tell us a bit about yourself?
Hi! I’m a photographer from northern England. I live in Yorkshire with my husband and two cats (who are some of my favorite subjects)! I’ve been shooting film for years and have amassed quite a collection of cameras. I also enjoy crochet and I’m learning to speak Portuguese.
What got you interested in shooting with film?
I had film cameras as a child/teenager (revealing a little too much about my age there!), but like most people, moved over to digital at some point along the way. A few years later, I saw my friend’s Holga camera and the images from it really caught my attention... so dreamy and nostalgic! So I picked up a Holga for myself, along with a Diana Mini, and from there I was well and truly hooked!
What's the appeal of medium format? Had you shot with it before getting the LC-A120?
As mentioned above, it was medium format film that rekindled my love of film photography. The detail in the larger negatives is just lovely! I also enjoy slowing down a bit - when I only have 12 frames per roll, I tend to shoot more mindfully and get more keepers per roll as a result. Since I shoot a lot of instant film, the square format feels pretty natural to me too.
Any thought's on using the LC-A 120?
“I love it! It’s so simple to use, since all you have to do is select your focus and shoot. It’s still quite new to me - I only bought it in November and obviously haven’t been able to get out much since, due to the never-ending lockdown, so I’m still getting used to it. I’m familiar with other LC-A series cameras though, so it feels very familiar. I managed to get the special edition leather version, which feels lovely in the hand and it must be the smallest and lightest medium format camera in existence?! It’s the perfect travel camera and I can’t wait to get out and take it on adventures!
Tell us about these photos?
The cemetery photos were shot using Cinestill 800t on a very gloomy day in Undercliffe Cemetery in Bradford. The LC-A 120 worked perfectly here, as the auto exposure system adjusted for the lack of light and worked great when paired with a fast film. This cemetery is amazing - the Bradford upper class of the past is buried here and as such, the graves are very elaborate and grandiose. Before the pandemic, you could take guided history tours here. It’s Bradford’s Père Lachaise!
The black and white urban images were shot with Ilford XP2 around my local area. The city images are in Bradford city center during the lockdown. I was in the city for a permitted reason, so took the opportunity to shoot a few frames whilst I was there. It was strange, as I hadn’t been in to the city for months and there was hardly anyone about! The black and white tree images were also XP2 and were taken on a lockdown walk in Hipperholme with a friend. We were on our way to explore an abandoned brickworks. The colour photos of graffitied brick buildings were shot here, on Portra 800.
The LomoChrome Purple shots were taken at Horsforth park in a tiny Japanese garden. It was in the winter and was freeezing! There was little colour about, so the purple film really brought out the best in it! I love this film so much! I’ve shot a few rolls in 35mm in my LC Wide and loved it, but the medium format version is even better. I love how it changes the tones of blues and greens, but not red. You can see this best on the images with the bridge - it really pops!
Is there anything you want to explore with film in the future?
I mean, at the minute I’d just be happy to get out of my small town to make some images! I’d like to shoot more pinhole photography, as that’s been difficult in the past year - cracking out a tripod on my daily exercise may raise eyebrows! Outside of that, I really enjoy urban exploring, so I’d like to take the LC-A 120 in some abandoned buildings. As it has a tripod mount and comes with a cable release, it will be a cool camera to do long exposures with in low light in old factories.
Any tips for someone wanting to start shooting with film?
I don’t think you can go wrong with an auto-exposure point and shoot and some medium sensitivity consumer film such as the Lomo 400 or Kodak Gold 200. That way, you don’t have to think about too much and can enjoy just making images. If you enjoy it, you can move on to experimenting with toy cameras and expired film, but since these can be unpredictable, I’d avoid them as a newbie. I’d also avoid manual cameras until you have a good understanding of the exposure triangle; it can be a bit overwhelming at first trying to remember everything! And most importantly, have fun!
To see more of Louise's photos do visit her Instagram page louwest.