UK-based Alexandra Haslam has only been exploring film photography for a few years but has fully embraced this aesthetic in her work, using redscale and instant film, medium format and 35 mm to create portraits that burst out with personality and playfulness. We sent Alexandra a LomoApparat with the kaleidoscope lens to test out. She talked to us about the process of shooting this camera in a studio setting and shared her results.
Hello Alexandra, please tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a predominantly analogue photographer, specialising in fashion and editorial photography. I have always enjoyed being experimental in my approach to my work, utilising a myriad of techniques and analogue formats to do so - you will rarely find me without a concoction of cameras and accompanying rolls of film.
How did you get into film photography and what's the appeal?
My journey into film photography truly began in 2020. It was an interest I had picked up during lockdown, something to keep me busy and the analogue process was almost opposite to my experience and knowledge of digital photography. I was amazed by the quirks of shooting on film, the experimentation during developing and scanning. Over the last year or so I have explored different ways of manipulating scans of my negatives in Photoshop and even with Artificial Intelligence. As well as creating film soups and pre-exposing rolls before shooting, intensifying the unpredictability of photographic film and, subsequently, pushing myself to be more unorthodox with how I shoot and what I shoot.
Most importantly, film photography slowed my shooting process right down. I truly had to consider if a shot was worth taking, as I had just those 36 shots. Shooting digital I had a habit of overshooting to boost my chances of getting the shot. Now with how I shoot, because of film, I consider how to get that shot before even loading the film. Switching to film unleashed a confidence in my photography that I hadn’t felt before.
How did you prepare for testing the LomoApparat and what did you choose to shoot?
I was excited to shoot with the LomoApparat because of its 21 mm lens. I love to use wide angle lenses in my fashion shoots to elongate and distort features. Using wide angle lenses in studio settings gives a view of the entire studio, not just the paper backdrop or set. I feel this gives the image a more of an “off the cuff” look, like you’re inviting the audience of the image for a backstage view. I like to have vague themes prior to a photoshoot, so with the LomoApparat having a disposable camera look to the images, I thought what better than the 90s. With that theme in mind, the model for the shoot, Charlie (who is also a makeup artist), styled themself accordingly.
Preparing to shoot in the studio with the LomoApparat was going to be a challenge, as I knew there wouldn’t be enough light to not use the on-camera flash, so I committed to using the flash throughout the shoot and only had a small amount of natural light from the studio. I made sure to try all the accessories that came with this camera, especially the color gels for the flash, I was impressed with the saturation of the red gel and flash combination. I shot with two Lomography films that I had never tried before, Lady Grey 400 and Lomography CN 400, which made the process and outcome all that more intriguing! Both films performed fantastic, especially Lady Grey 400 which had a fantastic amount of latitude. I was able to deepen those shadows and amp up the contrast with ease in the editing process.
How did you get on shooting with the LomoApparat and the kaleidoscope lens?
The kaleidoscope lens really took me by surprise. I enjoy using experimental methods frequently in my photography, but I had never thought to use a kaleidoscope. However, after scanning my negatives and seeing the results with the Kaleidoscope filter - I was amazed. The kaleidoscope photos are actually some of my favorites from the shoot! As you’re not actually able to compose with the kaleidoscope, scanning the images are a total surprise and I’m glad I positioned my model differently for those shots as the outcome completely changes. Some of my favorites of the kaleidoscope shots are when my model was positioned away from the centre of frame.
What advice would you give for someone wanting to try this camera out?
The LomoApparat lens is super wide, so I would recommend taking some time to consider your composition, more specifically what could be sneaking into frame. This lens is sharpest in the centre so if you’re wanting that tac sharpness - keep your subject central. Although I personally enjoyed positioning my subject away from centre. This created a really interesting distortion to the subject that creates a unique “Lomography” look to the photos! Most importantly, I encourage everyone who shoots with this camera to use all of its fantastic experimental features and just have fun with them! I especially recommend the Kaleidoscope filter and color filters for the flash.
What's coming up for you next?
I’ve began a personal project wholly different to my usual way of shooting. I’m currently experimenting with artificial intelligence solely in film. The project reflects essentially on where photography started, in its pure physical format, to the current age and the vision of where photography could be lead. Many photographers are concerned with the influx of AI in our creative workflows, understandably so, however I want to embrace that. Instead of using artificial intelligence to “perfect” my photos, I aim to completely change the narrative of a picture, and for the combination of analogue photography and AI to create something entirely other. I’ve created an Instagram page dedicated to this project called AI ON FILM.