Lomo Love Stories: An Interview with Jack & Ance of Lovers on Film1 22 Share Tweet
We get hundreds of new uploads to the Lomography community every day, which can range from landscapes to experimental photography, from house cats to nightlife photos. We take photos so that we won't forget. Sometimes the motivation can be as simple as remembering how our desk was arranged at one moment, or as sentimental as remembering the person that we, maybe even just once, swore we would spend the rest of our lives with.
In this feature, we discuss the intersections of film photography and physical intimacy and get to know more about Jack and Ance, the couple behind the Lovers on Film project.
The project gained traction on Instagram, and Jack and Ance’s community has become a haven for people from different cultures and beliefs to celebrate love. We also take a look at photos by our community members radiating the same love and affection that Lovers on Film's community is known for.
It hasn’t been that long since the height of the Covid19 pandemic, but with more countries lowering restrictions and people re-discovering life outdoors, it might be hard to remember exactly what it felt like when, for two years, the world stood still. One mutual feeling for many was the heavy sense of solitude and disconnection from people we had been so used to being around physically.
With time passing by slowly there was more room to discover new hobbies and interests. Many turned to film photography to document the slow passage of time or see their surroundings through new lenses. For partners Jack, from Cromer, England and Ance, from Riga, Latvia, the pandemic sprouted an online project they aptly called Lovers on Film. The couple first met in 2016 while studying art and photography at the university and have stayed together since, fueled by the same passions and interests.
Ance: I think my love for cameras came from my dad. He used to work as a documentary filmmaker for the Latvian Television, and I was always so amazed by that. It definitely helped me develop interest in cameras early on in my life because we always had a camera laying around somewhere. I have this very vivid memory of loading up a point-and-shoot when I was very young, and just snapping photographs the whole evening. No idea if any of them actually turned out okay - probably not!
When I was 16, I moved to Oxford for college and decided to embrace the art pathway. I had a wonderful photography tutor who taught us the art of analogue cameras, and I quickly became obsessed with Olympus and pinhole cameras. We also had access to a darkroom, and despite some early disasters, such as dropping my film and not being able to find it in the dark for almost half an hour (this is engraved in my memory!) I fell in love with the physicality of using chemicals on film and the process of waiting for it to develop and reveal the image.
Jack: My first real exposure to analogue photography (although I didn't see it as photography at the time) was cyanotype prints. I was about 13 and my art teacher taught me about the process, it was like chemistry but cool. I didn't get my first camera until my younger brother told our parents he wanted to be a photographer–so I did everything in my power to steal his idea.
At university I was pretty bored of digital photography and I found myself editing photos to look like they were analogue. At a carboot sale back in Norfolk, I found a £5 Olympus Trip and suddenly I was obsessed. Fast forward a few years and many rolls of 35 mm, I spent some time in Lisbon and I found a medium format Rolleicord V and fell in love with it. I’m a freelance filmmaker by trade, working in London and exclusively in the art industry. I spend most of my time interviewing photographers which always inspires me to continue my photography practice.
According to Ance, the idea for Lovers on Film started in the summer of 2020, when the "loneliness of the lockdown brought up thoughts about love, freedom, relationships, the world - all things that had been put on pause for months." Taking film photos became a metaphor for immortalizing little moments of peace and satisfaction borne of patience.
Ance: We thought, wouldn't it be nice to focus on something a bit more positive? It felt like everyone needed that. People were spending their time locked together, feelings were blossoming and adapting, everyone was reminiscing about the past.
This linked back to our own love of analogue photography–the intimacy, the uncertainty of what the image will look like until you get it developed, the physicality of it. You have to capture every image with love and purpose because you only get a couple of shots on each roll. We knew there was a project idea in there somewhere, so we just went for it with the hope that our enthusiasm would echo and we'd be able to shape this project into something that would really capture the essence of relationships. "If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around."
The couple started off by researching analogue forums and reaching out to couples to write stories about their relationships. Lovers on Film posted once a week in its first year, finding it hard to look for photos. Due to time constraints brought by changes in their circumstances, Jack and Ance stopped posting for a while.
But it was obvious that there was an audience for the kind of content Lovers on Film was showcasing. Submissions poured in – photos of couples from different backgrounds, different stories in every frame embodying the project's name. Jack and Ance eventually resumed the project.
Jack: Metaphorical tumbleweed filled our digital space, until one day we saw the amount of messages that had sat in our requests unread. We developed a strategy of a schedule that allowed us to read everyone's submissions and plan ahead. Suddenly people started finding us and submitting their images, and we no longer needed to reach out to find stories and images–instead photographers from all over the world were finding the page, enjoying what we were doing and wanted to be a part of it.
"There is so much love radiating around the features," Ance tells Lomography. This is evident in how much feedback and interaction every Lovers on Film submission garners, but better shown in the concrete acts of love that the individuals behind every frame stand for.
What "love" is can be a point of contention at times, and it's possible (even frequent) to muddy it with the motives of our own ego, subconsciously or otherwise. But in its genuine form, love trickles down to everything we touch and allows us to reach a higher vibration capable of positive change. We begin to see the world in a new light through love – kinder and more gentle.
Jack: Honestly for me–[the best thing about the community is] how global the project is. We get submissions from Argentina to Japan and everywhere in between. I'm a big geography nerd so I love seeing submissions from smaller countries and countries you wouldn't expect to have such a prevalent analogue scene.
One of our most memorable posts was last year, during the Iranian protests sparked by the murder of Mahsa Amini by the Islamic Republic of Iran. A photographer we had previously featured, Mohamad Moghadasi, was arrested in September and his release kept being postponed. He was one of hundreds, if not thousands, of young people protesting against the Islamic Republic. Many of these protestors have been arrested and tortured, some have been killed while simply demanding basic human rights.
Whilst he was in prison, we were contacted by his friends. We decided that shining some light onto his situation and raising awareness would hopefully speed up his release, so we put out another one of his incredible photos. His partner Yekta informed us that she was in touch with him during his imprisonment, which was a great relief. After a few weeks' wait, we were sent a photo informing us of his release.
Jack: Another one of my favorites from last year was a photo by an Irish photographer, Carl Ó Fúaraín. His girlfriend shot the roll first in Uruguay before rewinding the film and giving it to Carl. He then shot the roll and shot the mirror selfie of them both in Ireland.
Ance: There's this couple I absolutely adore. They're 49 and 53 from Japan, and they have their own Instagram with analogue photos of them, but every single image is so unique. They're playful and their photos capture some truly mesmerizing sceneries.
Ance: And another one of my all time favorites is a photo from Emmanuel Galindo in Mexico. Their photography seems to be exploring the flow of bodies and shapes, and many of them capture intimacy. This particular photograph made me feel so warm - this couple was sharing a cozy, vulnerable moment with the world.
Asked what's on the drawing board for the Lovers on Film project, Ance says on top of other exciting projects in 2023, the couple is working on a hardbound book based on the Lovers on Film project.
We're working with two wonderful writers to create a book all about love – analogue photography will intertwine with essays about various themes and stages of love. Our goal is pretty insane. We're hoping to feature a couple from every country in the world, to explore what love looks like on every corner of the map. We're definitely still in the early phases of the process, but we're so excited to bring this project to life. It's one we've had in our minds since the launch of this community.
We thank Jack and Ance, as well as the Lovers on Film and analogue community for sharing their images and stories with us! Follow Lovers on Film on Instagram to keep in touch.
written by sylvann on 2023-02-13 #culture #people #love #community #valentines #lovers-on-film