Annette Young was interested in film photography for a long time but it was not until she got her hands on a Holga camera that she truly embarked on this journey. Loving the quirks that make each shot unique she was addicted to first this camera and eventually also to the Diana F+. A Lomographer since the 2000s, she took a break from film photography, but recently found her way back through her Instagram and her new LomoHome. Always excited to welcome back longtime Lomographers, we talk to Annette about her love for the Holga and Diana F+, her journey back into film, and the tips she has picked up throughout the years.
Greetings Annette, can you please introduce yourself and tell us how you started your analogue journey?
Growing up in the ’80s, everything was analogue. From a young age, I have always loved art - drawing, painting, crafting, music, and photography. I also remember being drawn to my family’s old photo albums. I loved everything about these photos - the saturated, yet somehow muted colors, the documentation of their immigration journeys through Armenia, Russia, Poland, and Germany. And how their expressions and faces get lost in the moment while looking at these photographs and reliving these memories.
That stuck with me as I went to college and received my BFA in Creative Photography from California State University, Fullerton, from 2000-2004. We still had no digital cameras, so it was all analogue back then.
After college, I attended grad school and received my Masters in Library and Information Science, at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and became a librarian with a concentration on archives. During this time, I wrote my master's thesis on the preservation of family photo albums and spent time learning about film and photo preservation/conservation practices.
While focusing on my career and starting a family, I mostly took iPhone photos, but my love for film photography never went away. In February of 2023, I decided to get back to it. I started an Instagram account, put out my zine, Wanderlust, and since I couldn’t remember the name of my old LomoHome (which I only found again through your help), I started a new one. I was very nervous to get back into it, but the analogue photo community has been so welcoming and I have met so many talented artists. I kick myself for waiting so long to get back into it.
You mentioned you've been a fan of Lomography for quite a while. Can you tell us how you first discovered Lomography and what products you own or have used, maybe even some stores or events that you have been to?
During my time in college, I was mostly using Canon and Mamiya cameras, but I loved experimenting with toy and pinhole cameras. I once turned an acoustic guitar into a pinhole camera and took a self-portrait while playing the guitar.
I vividly remember discovering and purchasing my first Holga at Freestyle Photo in Los Angeles. The Holgas were stacked on a display table in these clunky black and blue boxes and cost $20. I shot one roll of film on that Holga and I was addicted. I remember the Holga had a very unique flaw - if you want to call it a flaw - where if I shot someone’s portrait, it usually only captured half of what I saw in the viewfinder, so most of their head would be cut off. The viewfinder was somehow off and I loved it even more for this reason. It was always a surprise seeing the film and captured a unique perspective!
I ended up buying a second Holga, which was a little more accurate. I also purchased two Wocas, an instant back for my Holgas/Wocas, an ActionSampler, Lomography Color Splash, some Lomolitos, the Diana Mini, and Diana F+. I immersed myself in the online Lomography community - I even won Mission 008:Soundwaves, in 2003. With that contest, I won a Lomo LC-A camera and a bunch of fun accessories.
While there were no Lomography stores in LA back in the early 2000s, I did spend a lot of time at Freestyle Photo, Samy’s Camera, A&I Photo, Fullerton Photographics, Monty’s Camera Shop, where I currently get my film developed, and Fromex Photo in Long Beach.
My fondest memories include being a dark room lab technician in college, where my best friend Junko and I had 24-hour access to the dark room. We would be there all night long processing photos, playing music, and overall being silly college students.
How would you describe your photography style?
Nostalgia and wanderlust. It all comes down to my earliest memories of my family’s photo albums and that feeling of wandering between countries and capturing memories that may have been forgotten otherwise.
I love and welcome all light leaks, dreamy colors, negative space, the sky, and happy accidents! Most recently, on a visit to Salvation Mountain in the California desert, all of my Holga photos overlapped with each other creating one long roll of uncut film. While a little clunky to store, it added something special to the whole experience. Memories overlap, especially as I get older. It’s fun to see my film doing the same!
You mostly use The Holga and Diana cameras. Can you tell us your story with them?
I think the Holga and Diana with their dreamy light leaks capture my style of nostalgia and wanderlust so perfectly. Photos appear hazy in some spots and sharp in others, colors are more vivid, but also slightly muted, like the photos in my family albums and like my memories. The way I process memories looks exactly like my photos. I think this is why I love to photograph the sky and palm trees so much - it’s what I grew up with in Los Angeles. I remember going to work with my mom as a kid, driving to her office in Hollywood on the LA Freeways. I would be in the backseat of her car, peering out the window, admiring the beauty of the sky, the architecture, the murals, and counting the number of palm trees I’d see.
What are some tips and tricks you have learned over the years with Holga and Diana?
I think the biggest tip is just to get to know your specific Holga/Diana because they all act slightly differently. One of my Holgas always leaks light on the top right corner, the other Holga needs to be aimed a little lower to capture what’s above it. I should probably label each camera with its fun quirk… but I love the element of surprise that comes with film photography and Holgas!
On a practical note, tape is essential for me. I usually have my camera with me at all times, so the brackets on the side have become loose. I always tape the camera shut and if I’m using a Holga with a flash, I tape batteries inside the camera too. If you want to decrease the amount of light leaks, you can seal the edges of the camera, where light might seep in, but I love a good light leak, so I generally avoid doing that.
Other than that, just have fun with it! Experiment! Get others involved - I love teaching my sons (9 and 10 years old) about film photography and getting them to shoot alongside me. Once they got over the initial shock of having to wait a few weeks to see the photos they were into it!
Tell us about your favorite photo that you have taken with these cameras.
My favorite photos taken with these cameras are from my honeymoon in Paris and London. Probably because of the happy memories I made there, but I also really love the photos I took while exploring these beautiful cities. While I usually shoot with 120 film, this photo was with 35 mm using the Diana Mini.
I realize this photo in Paris is very blurry and super minimal, but it holds so much meaning for me. The trip was a whirlwind with cooler weather, cloudy skies, and dashing through the many arrondissements of Paris to museums and sights all around. It just encompasses that feeling, that memory. I love that this photo can be anywhere, so my hope is that others can relate to it and remember that same feeling they had during one of their own travel adventures.
Anything you want to share with the rest of the Lomography community?
As someone who was a bit anxious to share my work for years, I want to encourage those who may feel the same to just go for it. I created my Instagram account three years before adding a single photo to it. I took a long break from film photography and now that I’m back into it, I forgot how much fulfillment and joy it brings into my life. I am so inspired by Lomography’s 10 golden rules of photography, particularly the “Don’t think, just shoot” motto. Not every single photo has to be a masterpiece. Just shoot and share and be a part of the awesome Lomography / film photography community.
We welcome Annette back to the community and thank her for sharing all her wonderful photos. Be sure to keep up with her on her Instagram and LomoHome. What camera made you want to pursue analogue photography? Comment down below and tell us your story!