An Instant Photo A Day with Vanessa Gonzalez and the Lomo'Instant Wide


Golden Rule #3: Lomography is not an interference in your life, but part of it.

Since her last feature on our magazine, Vanessa Gonzalez has continued to live by this rule, integrating Lomography into her life by documenting intuitive daily snapshots with the Lomo'Instant Wide. She first began this practice during 2020's quarantine, and today she is here with us to share how the project has evolved since then, along with some reflections on what the project has given her.

Let's hear some reflections from Vanessa and take a look at her photos!

Photos by Vanessa Gonzalez

Hi Vanessa, and welcome back to Lomography Magazine! Can you tell us about your daily photo project and your motivations for starting it?

Thank you. I began a thousand photo gratitude project on January 1st 2021 after considering some kind of project to help keep me motivated and looking for joy. Earlier in 2020 as we were all acclimating to isolation, WFH, and adaptation to life's new rhythms, I found myself struggling to keep up with the quick succession of change. Making the decision to leave my job as a teacher, pause culinary art school, and move away from California to take a break from my unsteady life was the only plan I had. What I craved was a kinetic tactile project that allowed me to focus on gratitude, and since I've always had instant cameras on hand, the idea for this photo project just sort of clicked.

I am currently at photo 396/1000. Since I began this project, I have moved back to California and my life feels secure, predictable for the most part, and things are going well. Beginning this project has also been a catalyst for sharing my other art where I've since had poetry published and paintings in art shows. I am so glad I share this project online as it allows me to connect with other creatives who continue to inspire me.

How has this instant photo project evolved since it first began? What changes in yourself have you noticed since starting it?

Since this project first began, I noticed I felt more moments of positivity and creative satisfaction. Whereas, previously I'd struggled to find gratitude in the mist of unpredictability and the unknown future. At the start of the project, I'd post a photo I took about once a day, and that has since shifted to once every few weeks. The reason for this being I find even though I carry a camera as often as I can remember, some of the best captures I've had recently haven't been those I'd want to share. From parties to heartfelt goodbyes, I'd really begun to honor privacy in a time where it seems like so much of our existence is being shared through technology. The past year or so I've felt inclined to delve into my creative instincts and craft fiction rather than simply interpreting what I see in a photo I capture or how I felt in the moment.

How does using the Lomo'Instant Wide support your creative expression? What do you enjoy about shooting with this camera?

There's so many creative possibilities when taking photos with the Lomo'Instant Wide, and if you're forgetful and easily distractible such as myself, you'll leave your lens cap on and have a substantial collection of blank photos to choose from when in a creative writing mood. Carrying my Lomo'Instant Wide is a physical reminder to acknowledge the beauty around me, and San Francisco offers ample opportunities for capturing beautiful terrain.

Photos by Vanessa Gonzalez

Do you have a favorite photo from this series? Is there a story behind it?

Ooh, a favorite photo so far? Well... I don't know if I could choose a favorite. I appreciate each moment shared as part of my gratitude project as each one captures a distinct facet of my (our) complex being. When I'd just come back to San Francisco following my 18 month Florida Pandemic Sabbatical, I snapped a photo of the skyline (above left). Upon returning home and looking at it I felt this wave of nostalgia for my young self returning to a place as a different person. We are constantly adapting to the world around us, and returning to this geography, I honored the footsteps of my past-self.

I have to share another photo with a different... personality shall we say. The above right photo showcases the dark silhouette of a lifeguard tower. At first glance, this photo appears rather humdrum, could easily have just been tossed it into a book and used as a bookmark. But I couldn't help but see it as part of a story so I sat and let my fingers type out an echo of this photo:

"They wandered aimlessly toward the setting sun over the Pacific, it’s magnetic and habitual like forming snowballs when presented with the opportunity. It was still warm out when their stroll began, and only once the chill hit had they realized darkness enveloped the coast. 'It’s dark,' they said quietly to themselves. Once they saw the faint silhouette of the lifeguard tower they knew it was time to go home. They sauntered back home alongside the coastal bike path perfumed with lavender and poppies steeping in the bookmarked memories of this very trail. We revisit these terrestrial spaces that look ordinary on film, but hold punctuated memories from life cherished with overwhelming beauty and loss. A photo can say both very much and very little, could be up to the viewer to tell the narrative."

I believe the magic in my photography lies in my ability to echo a photograph with the story that I illustrate from my real-world experiences. This gratitude project spotlights my journey, and I hope it inspires others to be grateful for the love, loss, heartbreak, grief, inspiration, honesty, failure, and success that has shaped each one of our own stories. You know, we talk about time being infinite, and possibilities endless, but in the grand scheme of things our lives pass in a flash and we are bound to a finite existence. It's up to us to find our harmony in the complexity of being. I know that was long-winded, but you know, I can't help that!

Photos by Vanessa Gonzalez

How does this project reveal itself differently throughout each season?

I haven't been using my cameras as much this past autumn and winter as I'd been often sick. I am a preschool teacher during the week so I've had my share of illness. By the time I'd had Covid the second or third time around, I'd noticed my body not performing as strongly as it had since prior to my first infection. This has led me to taking more time for leisurely activities at home, focusing more on IRL experiences and less on physical photo adventures. As warm weather approaches and I'm beginning to run again, I am looking forward to more photography sharing online. In fact, I have tickets for a museum for later today and my camera is packed.

Are there any other practices outside of writing and photography that help you stay inspired?

I paint as well, I had one or two paintings in a show when I was trying to raise money for UNICEF. I keep busy, that's for sure. An important practice for me is walking, not only for fitness but I use that time to reflect. I have a long text thread with myself where it's just words or revelations I'd had while moving – aha moments about life. Reading books about neurological sciences to help me better understand what motivates our behavior benefits my photography reflections. Shout-out to Robert Sapolsky for improving my artistic reflections!

Photos by Vanessa Gonzalez

Do you have any reflections you'd like to share that have risen throughout this process?

Hmm what are my reflections as I'm almost halfway complete with my 1000 photos showcasing ordinary magic as a marker through the passage of time? Perhaps that I'm not any better at snapping a photo than anyone else. In fact, half the time I just point and shoot without any idea what I may find post-development. I'm just sharing these thoughts (post coffee always) which I hope inspire others to take a beat to sit, reflect, and acknowledge their own journey rich with unique experiences.

How does this project fuel a sense of meaning and purpose in your life?

It keeps me searching for the invisible magic that makes life extraordinary.

Photos by Vanessa Gonzalez

Anything else you'd like to share?

I'd love to use this as a platform to remind others to practice kindness and empathy. The most fulfilling moments of my life are connecting and helping those on a challenging path. We are so prone to walk past someone sleeping on the ground, standing in an intersection, or scroll past the anonymous faces we see in photos accompanying the harrowing stories we read with coffee. It's pure luck that I was born into this life where I can spend some money on film packs and live in a country where internet access comes with relative ease to connect with strangers living all over our spinning rock in this silly little solar system. I am so fortunate to be able to shoot photos frivolously and find joy in my everyday experiences. I wish everyone to have joy and peace in their lives. And when this photography project nears it's sunset, my drive to help others will continue long after these photos are covered in dust.

I really appreciate you providing the space to let me share my thoughts and reflections on my photography project so far. I haven't sat down to think about the progress I've made in this project and cherish the opportunity to have done so. Now I think I'd like to end this interview with a song that feels right in this moment – Dreams by The Cranberries, because for some reason I feel optimistic right now.

Thanks for sharing, Vanessa! If you'd like to keep up with her ongoing photo project, you can find her on Instagram.

written by alexa_alexiades on 2024-03-31 #people #instant-photography #lomo-instant-wide

Mentioned Product

Lomo'Instant Wide

Lomo'Instant Wide

We're thrilled to introduce the Lomo'Instant Wide — the world's most creative instant wide camera and lens system! Combining high quality craftsmanship with versatile features, the Lomo’Instant Wide is the instant camera for any and every person who revels in capturing every beautiful, bizarre and bewildering moment in a creative, super wide, crisply sharp and perfectly exposed way.

One Comment

  1. van3ssagonzalez
    van3ssagonzalez ·

    Thank you for reading, it was a pleasure to share my thoughts.

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