From San Francisco, California, Yameen is a largely self-taught film photographer and an experimenter of many styles. Though, he centers his work on documentation, as he puts it, with a slight pinch of irreverence, aiming to capture the present moment by using his creative eye for appealing symmetry and vibrant, balanced compositions. In this photo series, he shares some of his favorite shots featuring our Color Negative films and LC-A+ and LC-A 120 cameras. Get to learn more about him and his experience with Lomography in this interview.
Welcome to the Online Magazine, Yameen! Can you tell the readers who you are?
Peace! My name is Yameen. I’m a photographer and sifter in the land of fun, based out of San Francisco, California. I’m a big fan of all things Lomography. Thank you for having me!
What got you interested in the Lomography community?
I first discovered Lomography many years ago when I picked up a camera that took four sequential images on a single frame. I learned that if I or the subject moved while the shutter was open, you could make these cool “animated” pictures. I had so much fun with that camera that I became really invested in the Lomography community. I admire how much Lomography caters to experimentation and creative tools for photographers.
How was your experience using our film stocks and cameras?
Love at first click! When I returned to film photography after spending years in the digital realm, the first camera I picked up was a Lomo LC-A+. Some of my favorite images have been captured with that camera. I was so enamored with the 35mm version, I recently picked up an LC-A 120 medium format camera, and I’m consistently blown away by how sharp the Mignon XL lens is. The way the bokeh renders gives images an unreal diorama-like effect. I love it.
My most recent Lomography pickup is the Sprocket Rocket panorama camera. It challenges me to think of my compositions in a totally new way, and I’ve had a lot of fun with it.
Similarly, Lomography film has always been versatile and dependable. When it comes to color rendering, especially on 120, it’s hard to beat. Recently, I’ve been getting deeper into Lomography’s black-and-white film offerings. I just learned that Potsdam Kino can be cross-processed as a slide film! I can’t wait to try that out. And thank you for continuing to make 110 film! Truly amazing.
What about analogue keeps you motivated?
The unpredictability. Not being 100 percent sure if I nailed focus or got the shot until I have the negatives developed is exhilarating and literally keeps me moving. It enables me to be in the moment and less distracted by the tool (the camera) as I may be wont to do with a digital LCD, for example. And when I do receive those film scans back from the lab, the thrill of opening them is not unlike unwrapping a gift and being surprised every time. That whole analogue workflow and film lifecycle keeps things exciting for me.
"There’s so much room for experimentation and creativity, down to the developer you choose or the age of your film stock. And of course there’s no arguing with the results: Film just gives you that look that’s undeniable."
I’m also mesmerized by the science and chemical process of film: The way different lenses can render different results on the emulsion, for example. It’s pure magic, really.
On to your photos, they are so vibrant and clean! Is there anything specific you look for when shooting?
Thank you! I would say in general I’m into symmetry and balance. If I see compositions I can frame in a way that draws attention to the subject in a very uniform or offset way, I tend to be attracted to that. Similarly with lines and patterns. I am also really into absurd compositions or things I find odd or out of place. I’ve been working on an entire body of work focused on these ordinary things.
Can you tell us which is your favorite out of this series and why?
Oh, that’s a tough one...I think the picture of the guy wearing the American flag t-shirt, hanging out of the window above the muscle car is a funny story to tell.
While driving, I saw the car parked out of the corner of my eye and thought it looked really cool propped up on the sidewalk in front of the house. I pulled my car over and ran back on foot to snap a picture really quick. As I was composing the frame, the owner magically appeared in the window and began asking me if I wanted to buy the car. It was hilarious. We spoke briefly (I had to graciously decline his offer), but I’m so glad he did that because it really made the shot and was 100 percent unplanned.
What has been the most valuable to you in your learning? Is there advice you’d like to share?
Experiment and make mistakes! Trying new things and messing up is an incredibly fun and revered part of my process.
"I cherish the happy accidents or pictures that weren’t planned but turned out amazing. Pushing the boundaries and learning what‘s possible with a particular camera, lens, filter or film stock has helped me become a more technical artist, which in turn allows me to accomplish more of the ideas I have."
Also: If you see a bunch of people doing something, do something else.
Is there anything you want to experiment with regarding photography?
Recently I’ve been channeling my inner Weegee and experimenting with black-and-white flash photography at night. The results have been very moody and noir.
I was taking candid street shots of people eating outside at night during the pandemic when restaurants converted sidewalks to makeshift open-air dining rooms. The flash I use is one of those huge old-timey flashes you would typically see from the 1940s or something, just like Weegee used. It’s a massive blast of light when it goes off, especially at night, when I was briefly masquerading as this voyeuristic exhibitionist. The photos were always pretty hilarious, filled with stunned and confused faces. I think I’m done with that particular project, but I enjoyed improvising with my photography and reacting to how the pandemic has affected my neighborhood.
Finally, what have you got planned for the rest of the year?
If you like spicy pictures of vehicles and catchy titles made of puns, I have a zine just for you! I recently finished compiling my first photobook, Mötorpr0n which will be published by Static Age Zines. Additionally, I am currently working on my first self-published book, Kuya, which I shot in the Philippines. Both bodies of work were made entirely on film -- largely on Lomography film -- and will be released in 2022.
I am very excited to create and share more work taken with Lomography film and cameras. Thank you so much for having me at Lomography magazine!