Connie (@connie__hardy) started her life in Japan just six months ago. Her photography journey was also reinvigorated by the move. In this article, she shares her insights and views of her surroundings in Japan captured on the Diana F+ Camera with LomoChrome Turquoise and LomoChrome Metropolis film.
Hello, and welcome to Lomography magazine! Please tell us about yourself and what you do.
I always seem to not know how to answer this type of question! Well I’m Connie. I’m 31, born in Greece, raised in the UK, and now living in Japan! I’m an introvert with bursts of extrovert tendencies! I worked in property management for five years. An opportunity presented itself where I could live in Japan and I took it! Part of the reason was to find my freedom in photography – I felt that my inspiration in London was limited. I didn’t see the beauty of the city as I once knew it to be. Now I teach English and find any opportunity to shoot.
How long have you lived in Japan? Is there anything in particular you like about Japan or Japanese culture?
I’ve lived in Japan now for just over six months. The one thing that I tell my friends back home is that every season brings a more beautiful side of Japan. I love the ever changing landscape from the cherry blossoms in April/March to the sight and sounds of the thunderstorms in June and the cicadas in the summer with everything looking so green. Now entering autumn (one of my favourite seasons), I’m excited to see how Japan changes once again.
Japanese history in itself is fascinating and has been since studying it during my Art History degree. The Edo period was one of the most interesting eras for Japan. It was a period where music, art, poetry, all things creative really got popular and took off.
I think the most beautiful part of the culture is that people in Japan still do everything possible to preserve it, be it practicing tea ceremonies, wearing kimonos and studying traditional arts and crafts from an early age.
How did you first get into photography? Has it always been film?
Growing up in the 90s meant that there was some kind of film camera/cam corder. I even remember I had an old school Polaroid camera that I used to just snap away (my dad used to get mad at the wasted film).
My stepdad loved taking pictures so it wasn’t anything new. However I didn’t really give it much thought, times moved on, we sold all the cameras and I was too busy trying to figure out my life!
However, six years ago I decided to buy this second hand digital camera (Canon Rebel T3) and started shooting again. It got boring and eventually started gathering dust on my shelf. Then during lockdown (2020) a period where I had no work for six months I decided to pick it up again. I decided to build up my Instagram account following a lot of photographers.
I noticed that film cameras were making a comeback. I was seeing these incredible film photographers producing some incredible shots. Even one of my close friends used to always bring a disposable camera on our holidays. It made me think – hold on a second, I have time, I have a bit of money, I’m going to give it a go. And the hobby of a beautiful yet expensive journey of film photography began.
I'm guessing the Diana F+ was a lot different to your everyday cameras. How did you find it?
So different I needed to do some self study. I’m used to heavy cameras and that threw me off. So I think I found it quite difficult. I thought I got a hang of it, but then I got the shots back and thought to myself – nah, I didn’t get the hang of it at all!
I have used Lomo films before and the reason I picked Metropolis and Turquoise was that these were two I haven’t yet used. I liked the Metropolis. It has an interesting blueish/greyish tinge depending on the setting, and in one of the photos in particular of the Torii gate I liked the depth of colour that it gave out.
Now Turquoise on the other hand was a complete experiment for me but quite fascinating to see the results of it especially, in Tsutenkaku.
What would you say your photography style is?
That’s a tough one. I think it changes depending on my mood or the vibe I want to give. I think at the moment its leaning onto street photography but I’ve always wanted to switch it up. I want to explore different styles and just see what happens.
Why shoot film?
I think put simply, it reminds me of my childhood. It brings nostalgia and as a millennial we love nostalgia. I also love experimenting with it. I feel like I learn something new every time I pick up one of my cameras. And most importantly the aesthetic. With each one of my cameras and depending on the film roll used, I just get such an aesthetic vibe, it’s hard to explain.
In your Instagram bio you use the quote "A photograph is not a picture, but a slice of the world." Is it something you were taught or something you came up with?
Something I was taught. I did a lot of research and read a lot about why people shoot, why pick up a camera in the first place, and this quote stood out to me. It has been like a motto ever since.
What do you want your audience to imagine after seeing your photographs?
I want them to imagine what they want. At the end of the day my photography is art. That’s how I categorise it. I want their imagination to run wild.
Not many people have the opportunities I’ve had and I say that as humbly as I possibly can. I want them to see themselves there and imagine what comes next.
Now almost everyone has a smartphone and can take beautiful pictures easily. Although "good" can be quite subjective, what does "a good photograph" mean to you?
I don’t think I can be a judge of what a good photograph is. I heavily criticise my work and even when I hear a compliment from anyone on it, my ultimate response is that I have a lot more work to do to get to where I want to be with it. (And I don’t know where I want to be with it!)
But saying all that – for me particularly, if I see a picture and feel joy, or excitement, or even like a wow moment that to me is “good”. Whatever invokes an emotion out of me I guess could be seen as a “good” photograph.
Last question, will you keep shooting film?
Without a doubt! Watch me grow, this is only the beginning!
Thank you Connie for participating in this interview! If you're interested in keeping up with her work, make sure to check out her Instagram!