Julia (@waggrad00) is a self-described Holga novice, having shot only one roll of film in five years because it was—according to her—awful. She recently decided to challenge herself by picking up the camera again, and started documenting this creative and emotional progress in her LomoHome. At the moment, she is on her fifth round and came to this conclusion: "Creating with this camera has been the most incredible artistic experience I have had in years."
Hi, Julia. What have you been up to lately?
From a career perspective, I just started working a new job this week. I have been a therapist for 16 years this December, and I wanted to try something new. So far it's been good. I actually decided that I wanted to try something out of my comfort zone and art-related also and I took a part-time job at a local non-profit theater working in the front of the house. We have a show starting in October, a comedy, so I am super excited about it.
From an artistic perspective, I have been shooting with my Holga and I love it! This camera is so dreamy and I am using a ton of medium format film that has been sitting in my fridge patiently waiting for me for years.
The pandemic has greatly affected our lives. How did/do you adapt to our current circumstances?
Honestly, I think I did what a ton of people did, I took it and am continuing to take it one day at a time. This is all so unprecedented. I seek joy in the little things like beautiful sunsets, flowers, good food and lovely moments with strangers. We are all going through this pandemic together, so I take joy in smiling at people who pass me by. Even if our smiles are covered by masks, our eyes effectively convey the sentiment.
Let's talk about the photos you took this year. What are the things that you observed through your lens? What are the changes that you noticed in your surroundings/neighborhood/city?
When the pandemic started and the call for social justice change became louder, I had absolutely no desire to create. Then at the start of this year, I lost someone traumatically who I loved so very much. Photography and art were the last things on my mind. I was living with waves of sadness and grief that often felt paralyzing. My friend Rachel suggested a photo project for us to do together and it forced me to pick up a camera, go outside and seek good things. I'll always appreciate my friend encouraging me to get out and explore because it's been therapeutic. I bought a Holga camera about five years ago, shot one roll of film with it (it was awful) and I put it away. I decided that I was ready to challenge myself artistically, so I have been shooting with it since the spring. I am still a novice, but I absolutely love it.
What role does film photography play in your life right now?
Right now, photography helps me witness and document joy. Some of it is joy in the small form like the way the light hits the wall in an alley and a random flower that was dropped from a bouquet on the ground. Some of the joy comes in greater forms like the wedding parties I come across in the park on Saturday afternoons and the kids playing in the fountain at Millennium Park. If it's a rough day, witnessing these scenes makes all the difference and documenting it with my photography is the cherry on top.
What advice would you give those who are feeling hopeless and uninspired?
You are not alone! Your feelings are understandable. You are seen. Here's the thing, please please please don't give up! Know that feeling uninspired or hopeless is temporary, and I promise you that it will get better. If someone is reading this who can't find beauty in the world, reach out to your photo friends or find a photo meet up group. My friend Rachel suggesting our photo project awakened my artistic passion, it even helped me apply for an art-based job. If I can support you by nerding out with you about analogue photography or coming up with a photo project, I'm in! Just don't give up.
If you wish to see more photos or collaborate with Julia, kindly visit her LomoHome.