When you're traveling all around the country, a pocket-sized friend like the Diana Baby becomes a suitable companion. Community member Mariele Ferrero, a.k.a. frrmrl, tells us what it's like to visit these places in Italy and capture them in 110.
Hi Mariele, welcome to our Online Magazine! Could you please introduce yourself for our readers?
My name is Mariele Ferrero and I live in Lagnasco, a small country town in the province of Cuneo, Piedmont. I'm 26 years old, I finished my studies of Graphic Design and Communication Technician at the High School Cravetta-Marconi located in Savigliano and I studied Graphic Design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Cuneo. After various working experiences as an animator, waitress, event photographer, and graphic designer for acquaintances, I was lucky enough to find a job in my field and for the last two and a half years I have been working as a graphic designer in a company that deals with clothing customization in Saluzzo, the WellFactory.
Tell us about your photographic background: when did you start your journey into photography?
Photography has always been a part of my life, my mother never missed a chance to capture every moment of my life and that of my siblings with her film camera. I was very curious about it, especially about the negatives of the photographs. However, I only became interested in photography during high school, where Photography was one of the subjects.
Even before studying photography in school, I knew already that it could become a good way to express my creativity. I just had one of my biggest disappointments, a failure at the Geometry school, a school that I don't think I ever really chose if not driven by certain circumstances at the time. I felt the need for redemption, but above all I felt the need to understand myself, to identify myself. So when I chose to change school, photography became my goal.
Initially, I took pictures with my mum's compact camera, mostly of my cats. Then, with the savings of those years, I managed to buy my first Reflex camera, a Canon 1100D. Definitely not the top of the range, but compatible with my skills and the budget of that time. I started, like my mother, to capture every moment with my friends, trying to add to the shots something "artistic". I started dreaming of becoming a photographer when I combined photography with sports, I really like action sports and my favorite photos were those of my friends improvising on snowboards. That Reflex, in its own small way, gave me great satisfaction back then.
This wonderful series was shot with the Diana Baby 110. What are your favorite features of this camera? And how long has it been accompanying you on your travels?
I rediscovered the pleasure of analogue in 2017, when my boyfriend gave me my current Lomographic camera, the Diana Baby 110, for my birthday. The first few times I was almost terrified to shoot, after all, you can't set the aperture, not even the shutter speed and the ISO depends on the film, you only have a slide button that allows you to decide the exposure of the shot. My fear was that I would waste the film by burning it or taking a series of completely black photos.
From the first roll of film I managed to save less than half of the shots and I didn't want it to happen again so, from the next roll, I started writing down every detail of the conditions in which I had shot (as the main character of a novel I read used to do) and indeed it was the best way to better understand the needs of my Diana Baby 110 and ensure, over time, the success of most of the exposures on the film. Part of these shots are in this interview, a roundup of the best photos of the eleven rolls developed so far.
I must admit that I haven't used much an SLR since Lomo came into my life. Mainly because my photographic eye in that 2012' Reflex now feels a bit narrow (I wanted to buy an SLR that would meet my new expectations, but with time my priorities have changed), but also 'cause I have less free time and of course because of its size. My Lomo is as big as a Tamagotchi, so easy to carry around, and it is amazing how much magic it holds in such a small size. Obviously, my favorite part of the Diana Baby 110, is the fact that it works with films inspired by the pocket rolls launched in the 70s. Its peculiarity is the fact that it is much smaller than the standard films and almost completely disappeared from the market, if not for a few exceptions such as the brand Lomography that also develop them.
Has shooting with this mini camera ever attracted the curiosity of passers-by?
There has always been a lot of curiosity about my Diana Baby 110, but I have always noticed a bit of hesitation from my friends or acquaintances in asking me questions about it, perhaps for fear of offending me by telling me that I was shooting with a camera that looks like a toy. But after the first perplexities, people usually ask me questions and I can't wait to share the peculiarities of this world that is photography, in this case, seen from a lens with a half centimeter's diameter. A girl I know got so involved that she ended up buying the Diana F+.
What is your favorite film to use this camera with?
The film I have been using the most is the Color Tiger 110, just for the sake of convenience, because it is the only film that is available in a 3-pack and can be found "easily" in all Lomography stores. But I also tried the Peacock X-Pro Slide 110, the Lobster Redscale 110 and the B&W Orca 110. There have been new films released in the last few years, and I will certainly try those too in due course.
Do you have a favorite camera?
I can't compare my Lomo camera to the Reflex, but since this year I also have a Polaroid I can say that choosing between it and the Diana Baby, which is my favorite, is very difficult; for obvious reasons, the Polaroid is timeless. But I must admit that the Diana Baby remains my favorite. I always take it with me on holidays and thanks to its small size and lightweight, it allows me to fully enjoy the places I visit. Then, the fact that I am not immediately sure whether the photographs have come out or not, creates a desire that also impresses the film with the emotions and sensations felt at the moment the picture was taken. That damned desire to know whether it turned out well or not, that's the thought that dazzles my mind with the places I captured and that only months later I will know if I can see them again in those shots.
Where will you take your Diana Baby this summer?
This summer I will use my vacation to move in with my boyfriend, so we won't be doing much sightseeing, although we won't deny ourselves a weekend in San Marino. That's where I'm taking my Lomographic camera this year.