On his Instagram account Berlin-based australian UX designer James Sarantos showcases the urban jungle in all its glowing glory. For our Online Magazine he took the LomoChrome Metropolis 2021 35 mm out for a spin through the streets and subway stations of Berlin and found a different approach to shooting with this high contrast formula.
Hi James, good to have you here! Please introduce yourself to our magazine readers.
Hey, I’m James, an urban and street photographer by night, working as a UX designer by day. I’m Australian and have been living in Berlin for the last 3 years, taking photos of my surroundings and just having fun and enjoying my time with the photography community in Europe.
When did your photographic journey begin?
My photographic journey began in my early teens, discovering an old unused Konica C35 EF in one of my parents’ drawers. It turned out that this camera had been owned by my grandfather and I was immediately fascinated by the idea that this camera had created all of our family memories and began taking my own photos with it. I was from then on influenced to create snapshots and document my surroundings.
Can you describe the importance of film photography in your practice?
I personally only shoot 35 mm analogue photography and for me this is part of the process that makes it so special. There is something special about the quality of the images that have an unexplainable natural feel to them, that evokes so much more emotion and nostalgia than digital photos. The process of taking it slow and waiting for the right moment (so as not to waste any film) tends to focus my attention and push my photography further.
For you, what's the most important component to consider in your frame of composition?
For me there always needs to be one component in the photo that captures the eye. It can be something as simple as a leading line, an obvious light source or even a block figure to draw the attention of the eye. This is what draws people to my photography, and the visually striking nature of my photos is something I am proud to create.
You shot our LomoChrome Metropolis 21 35 mm film. What do you think of the results?
I had done a bit a of research of LomoChrome Metropolis already and was expecting the well known desaturated contrasty results. So I decided to treat it like black and white film, looking for light and contrast in my compositions, rather than colour (which is something that normally catches my eye). I’m very happy with the results overall, and I was pleasantly surprised at how the film allowed me to explore and find some results that are quite different to my usual shooting style, but are still somehow reminiscent of my usual street photography.
What equipment did you use for this series?
For this series I used my trusty Rollei 35s which is my favourite inconspicuous street shooting camera. Its fully manual, letting me pre-set all the settings and snap a photo as soon as I see a moment I like. The contrasty Sonnar lens of the Rollei really paired well with the grainy contrasty look of Lomochrome Metropolis, to produce some results I was really happy with.
Which one is your favorite photo?
My favourite is “Scene in the west” [cover photo]. The photo has a New York street photography quality to it, despite being shot in Berlin. I quite like how this photo emphasises that the street forms and cultures in West Berlin in some ways mimic those of the US, probably since West Berlin was a US occupation zone after WW2. This aspect of Berlin’s cultural dualities has always interested me, and I am pleased to see it coming through in this photo. The facelessness of the image also underscores the anonymity experienced in the metropolis of Berlin.
Any upcoming projects you would like to tell us about?
I have a small project that I have been working on for some time, which focusses on the smaller moments or snippets of life, and documents them in an authentic natural style. The project is still a bit of a way from being a finished set, but I like where it’s going. Stay tuned.
Thank you James for sharing your photos and thoughts with us. Check out more of his works on his Instagram.