Nothing stops Lomographers Nikolas (@lofnikolas) and Naoyuki (@naosuke) from building an archive of their film swaps exchanges. Having both liked each other’s works and their same wavelength when it comes to their analogue approach, the two have been friends ever since, sending each other’s films between Greece and Japan.
Nikolas has always been fond of Japanese culture. Everything about the country, its people and places interested him. In 2010 he began a habit of always looking for urban images of Tokyo. Several years after while still on this habit, he came across Naoyuki’s photos in the Lomography Community.
“It was in 2017. It was the moment when I was searching for images of Tokyo in the Lomography website that I found the photos of Naosuke. I was impressed. I gave his photos a lot of likes and he sent me a message and thanked me. I answered by going straight to the point, and said, ’I like your photos so much… do you like to exchange films together?’”
Naoyuki also liked Nikolas’ style and shots of everyday life, and he agreed with the collaboration despite not knowing at first how to do the film swap:
“ He found my photos on Lomography and invited me to film swap. The idea was to mesh Japanese and Greek landscapes or people, all exposed in one frame This is very exciting. I replied to him immediately. He kindly taught me how to film swap.”
Naoyuki and Nikolas are already on their third exchange, and the surprise and excitement kept getting intenser. For Nikolas, the swap opened an opportunity for him to combine the modern and the natural elements of Japan and Greece, respectively — for him to create a sense of connection between the two. Nikolas shared:
“ My personal view is to add elements of my people and city without being able to dominate the images from Tokyo but add an extra value, emotional and dreamy. There is no further elaboration of the subjects technically except for those emotions that drive my instinct to photograph the illusion of the present moment. Knowing that the photos from Tokyo will be urban, I chose to travel and add natural landscapes of my country to one of the four films. So I divided the films into categories at random. In one I chose to add portraits, in the other a street perspective and in the last that I was lucky…”
Naoyuki knows Tokyo at the back of his hand, and shared his shots with the intention to further introduce his town to Nikolas. Despite knowing very well how different both their cities are and already having a rough idea of their theme, the outcome of their film exchanges still manage to keep surprising them. Naoyuki said:
“We do not specifically discuss the subjects to shoot in advance. We shoot on own discretion. But strangely, when the negatives come out, the same scenery of Greece and Japan is exposed in one frame. Roads and roads, buildings and buildings, forests and forests. I think this is honestly a wonderful miracle.”
The photographs give a semblance as if we are being in two places at once, a feat that only a few film swaps can recreate that certain feeling. How Naoyuki and Nikolas achieved this is likely through honest and clear communication, and being at the same page of approach with the film swap partner will create a unified theme. Nikolas shares, “So after we have agreed how many films we will exchange with each other, we start taking pictures by adjusting the camera to double the iso. That is, if the film is 200 ISO, then we set the camera to 400 so that the next one can write as well, Why we put 400 + 400 = 200.”
Naoyuki finds film swaps extra fun and exciting than regular shoots due to the spontaneity of the collab. He applies the rules of making double exposures when doing a film swap:
“You will shoot while imagining a landscape that will be combined with the landscape of your town. The scenery your partner shoots is exposed in the dark areas of your shot. Double exposure is successful when shooting a landscape with dark area and a high contrast. Double exposure of wide landscapes and close-up shots also gives good results.” -
Nikolas also stressed its important to complement, not overshadow your partner’s compositions when doing film swaps. That’s why for him, it’s important that the partners actually like each other’s styles. Aside from the films, Nikolas mentioned adding some little local delicacies and gifts from Greece in the package for a more personal touch:
“It is important to read the way your partner sees the world around him, could you complement his image with some element of your own? Could you deify this work and make it more magical, more psychedelic? If you do not like his photos, better not. For me, it is very important that if you decide to make the exchange, you pay for the post office of your country and put something produced by your place in the envelope. I also put a lot of chewing gum or seeds of flowers and vegetables of my country. These little things add a lot of love!”
Some challenges were met on the way, as well, according to Naoyuki. He mentioned that usually, a project will be completed in about two months, however, recently it took him more days to finish things off. He encountered a bit of trouble with how he will send over his 8 rolls of film.
“The pandemic robbed me of the choice of shipping abroad. Air transportation from my country to Greece was very difficult. But I’ve been patiently looking for a shipping method, Andwas finally able to give him the film.”
Meanwhile, Nikolas’ mail errands was a bit of a breeze:
“Surprisingly, the post offices of Greece are cheap and very reliable, there are no delays. I worked for almost 5 months until my shots were completed, it was locked and the restrictions on my travels were a big blow but I had my camera with me everywhere to record. It also took a long time for the films to appear, which took almost 2 months since the laboratory was hit by the virus.”
The two has then been in constant contact in the Community, and would keep their film swap exchanges go on. Both Naoyuki and Nikolas look forward to meet each other in person once the pandemic is all over.
“After the pandemic, I want to hone my cross-process multiple exposure skills. And I will continue swap shots in towns I haven't visited yet. Of course, I want to shoot the scenery even in foreign countries. And one day I will meet my friend LOFNIKOLAS.” — Naoyuki
“I am raising money to be able to travel to Tokyo and finally meet my partner. There I want to take photos with all kinds of films that I will be able to buy from there. At the moment, however, I am promoting our collaboration by taking part in group exhibitions and telling everyone about the film exchange.” — Nikolas
A friendship founded by mutual love for film is truly for keeps.
Thank you for sharing your awesome collaboration, Nikolas and Naoyuki! Swap with your film friends like @lofnikolas and @naosuke now and create something unique, distinct and memorable with your mutual film lovers in the Lomography Community!