Since introducing himself to film photography during the early pandemic, photographer Eli Edwards is almost always holding his film camera in hand, whether that's to capture the urban life of LA or music artists in NYC concerts. Going back and forth between the two cities, Eli is constantly finding inspiration from the different cultures and landscapes, and the distinct people he meets. After learning that Lomography has played a large role in his analogue journey, we wanted to learn more about his creative background and follow his experience with our films. Recently, he shot some rolls of the Lomography Color Negative 800 and LomoChrome Metropolis to photograph the indie rock duo Boyish, and the beautiful sights of LA and Costa Rica. Read his story below!
Hey Eli, welcome to the Lomography Community! Can you tell us a bit about yourself? How’s life as a photographer these days?
Hello, hello! My name is Eli Edwards and I have considered myself a photographer by trade since early 2020. Living bicoastal in Los Angeles and New York City throughout the pandemic, I have had ample time to try new things. Insert film photography. I found a Canon AE-1 on eBay and began shooting in New York as soon as I got my hands on it. Photography became an escape from my day job where I was sitting on my ass 8 hours a day. It was the perfect way to see the world in a new light. I got obsessed with the infinite amount of ways you can take a picture (the variety of films, lenses, cameras, angles, times of day, etc). Looking back to almost two years ago, I have learned so much about this craft which I consider a pillar in my life now. These days, I have been focusing on photographing urban life and portraiture, where my recent projects on Costa Rica and Boyish have come into play with Lomography!
You mentioned you love to shoot Lomography films! What is Lomography to you?
It is true, Lomography films are among my favorite films out there! I was first drawn to Lomography after picking up some LomoChrome Metropolis while perusing the camera superstore B&H in midtown Manhattan. I decided to go with the film while shooting the band Boyish (India Shore and Claire Altendahl) in Brooklyn, NY for some of their press kit. I was looking for a film that had a muted color palette with less saturation to accentuate the mild blues and reds both members of the band were wearing. The results were everything I had hoped for and more.
When did you first click the shutter button?
I’ll qualify this answer by saying I can’t remember exactly the year I shot a few polaroids as a kid (my parents would know the answer) so I’ll say it was in 2020 when I first got my Canon AE-1 and wanted to take the craft more seriously. I was in Queens getting boba with a couple of my friends. I was just walking around shooting with my head cut off. Had no idea what I was doing. Some of the results were interesting but my first shot on the roll was a very out of focus and light-leaked photo of a fruit stand. I saw the 36 images and said to myself, “Only up from here!” And thankfully my clicks on the shutter button have been much better.
How do you describe your style of photography? Who or what influences you?
Two things I like to consider as a part of my photographic style are the symmetry and contrast of the shots I take. Reflecting on those two sentiments in my images is always on my mind.
Contemporary creatives I have learned a lot from are Sean Bartley, Axel Kabundji, and @KingJvpes on YouTube, not to mention the countless others. Photography is something you can always get better at and learn new things from which is the biggest reason I keep coming back for another roll. These three have been big reasons why my passion is stronger than ever.
How did you get into concert photography specifically and photographing for Boyish?
Being friends with people in the music scenes of Los Angeles and New York have afforded me opportunities to shoot concerts more and more as they have come back. This includes Boyish who I have worked with over the past year-plus. Meeting Boyish’s manager, Nicole Teckchandani, who is an absolutely fantastic person and talent, in college was where I first became familiar with India and Claire’s music. Our friendship and work have proceeded from there.
What would you say is the most rewarding aspect of live music photography?
Concert photography is something I love to shoot because 1) you get to feel the energy of the crowd, and 2) rather obviously, you get to listen to dope music while shooting! One of the best feelings in the world is sharing your work with the artists because they get snapshots of what it was like for their music to impact a group of people in such a visceral way. Music is transcendent in that way and I try to have the images I take to be the portal in between of that shared experience.
Did the Lomography Color Negative 800 and LomoChrome Metropolis films complement your style? How did you like them?
Absolutely. When I was in Costa Rica back in October, I was looking for a vibrant yet vintage look and using both of those films down there, those looks were accomplished. Shooting Boyish as well throughout the Fall with Metropolis, created such unique contrast I wish the roll was 72 or 144, not 36!
You shot a variety of scenes for us, from concerts to Costa Rica landscapes to LA streets. Do you have any fun stories to tell from any of these shoots?
The first one that comes to mind was in Costa Rica. My girlfriend and I were on a beach where monkeys were running around eyeballing everybody’s bags. It was a spectacle to see. This one monkey was eating a bag of chips while another was stealing a man’s cigarettes. What a life! However, on our way back from dinner later that day, we were riding on a golf cart and I was reminiscing about taking some dope photos of those aforementioned monkeys. As I was talking, the golf cart hit a bump, my camera strap broke and the camera fell perilously to the ground. I never knew I could go from being so joyful to so sad in less than a second. The good news, the roll was intact! Bad news, I did end up getting a new camera after the trip.
Shooting Boyish in concert was a dream. They were playing at the Echo in Los Angeles earlier in November and it was the first time I saw them perform outside of New York. It’s incredible to see India and Claire play. They have such a dope stage presence and seeing the audience vibe with it gave me goosebumps. They are truly superstars. Moving around different parts of the venue was great, photographically speaking; to capture the different moments and songs throughout their performance while periodically taking a beat to soak it all in and listen to wonderful music.
What does a typical day of shooting look like for you?
Everyday ranges, which is why I love photography! One day it’s a photo shoot with a model, the next is walking in a cityscape shooting architecture. However, the one defining characteristic I have every time I shoot is having an approach. Whether it be by something I read or saw, or just a thought popping into my mind I always want to at the very least have a feeling or look attached to the roll I’m shooting.
What’s lined up for Eli Edwards? Anything we can expect?
Expect more introspective looks at Los Angeles and New York in my upcoming projects. Those are the two cities that made me who I am and want to continue to shoot the people and places that inspire me. As a whole, I’m going to continue to learn and try new things… that’s what photography is all about!