Jonathan Mok on His First Impressions of the Diana F+ and Love of 120 Film

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Jonathan Mok is a California-based photographer and creator with a knack for medium format photography. After making the jump to 120 film, he hasn't turned back, so we knew the Diana F+ camera would be a perfect photographic companion for him.

Today he's here to share his Diana F+ shots, as well as some of his favorite photos shot on Lomography Color negative 800 and LomoChrome Purple medium format film from his archive!

Photos by Jonathan Mok on Lomo 800 120 film

Hi Jonathan, welcome to Lomography Magazine! Can you start off by telling us about yourself and work in general?

I’m honored to be a part of this! My name is Jonathan Mok and I am a film photographer from San Francisco, California and currently residing in Portland, Oregon. I’ve been shooting film since 2016 and I shoot a variety of subjects from landscapes to street photography and portraits. I’m still learning and growing in my work, and simply thankful to have the privilege and opportunity to do so.

How did you get into shooting medium format film as opposed to 35 mm?

In 2016, I bought my first film camera, a Canon AE-1, off of Ebay. As I continued using it, I fell in love with the process of shooting film and found myself reaching for my film camera over all my other digital gear. So in 2021, I decided to fully commit to shooting film and felt that medium format would be the next practical step in my learning progression with film photography.

I sold all my digital gear to buy my first medium format camera—a Hasselblad 500C/M. I know it’s more of a drastic leap instead of a baby step into medium format, but it’s a decision I have never regretted. Apart from image quality, I would have to say there’s a psychological appeal of shooting medium format for me that comes from the limited number of shots I have in a roll.

Because I’m limited to 12 shots (when using my Hasselblad), it forces me to be more intentional with my work. I see it as a challenge. So, when I end up with a photo that I’m happy with, it feels like more of an accomplishment knowing the limitations I had to work with.

This might stem from my underlying competitive nature. I used to play a lot of video games, specifically “Dota”. If you’ve played, you know what I mean.

Photos by Jonathan Mok with the Diana F+ on Lomo 800 120 film

What were your first impressions of the Diana F+ camera?

Before anything, I have to say it’s a cute camera! I had the Diana F+ Cortina with its light blue color serving as the background for a vintage ski resort illustration. I felt like I was in a Wes Anderson film when I walked around with it.

When people hold my Hasselblad, they all say it’s so light compared to all the other medium format cameras they’ve used. But if the Hasselblad is the lightweight champion, then the Diana F+ is the champion in the featherweight category. With its plastic construction, it is by far the lightest medium format camera I’ve ever used.

Because of its price point and simplicity, I think it's a great introduction for those who want to get into medium format.

Photos by Jonathan Mok on LomoChrome Purple 120 film

What did you decide to shoot with the Diana F+ and Lomo 800 combo?

In classic Pacific Northwest weather, the days have been colored in gray and rain. However, there was a two day gap of sun that warranted a trip to two of my favorite places since moving up to Portland: Cannon Beach and the Portland Japanese Garden.

I grew up near Ocean Beach in San Francisco, so I love visiting Cannon Beach when I can, especially during sunset. I felt that it would be the perfect location to shoot Lomo 800 during golden hour with the fading light.

I chose the Portland Japanese Garden because I shot my first roll of LomoChrome Purple in medium format there and I thought it would be fun to compare the two film stocks.

Do you have any tips or tricks for shooting on the Diana F+?

Watch the tutorial How to Use the Diana F+ on Lomography’s YouTube channel. That’s what I did and I have no shame in admitting it.

Other than that, just get out and shoot. Experience is the best form of learning.

Photo by Jonathan Mok on Lomo 800 120 film

You've tried a few different Lomography medium format film stocks, which one is your favorite and why?

This is like having to pick between your favorite pizza toppings. Sometimes it comes down to what you’re feeling. I like pineapples on my pizzas for the record. But if I was forced to only use one Lomography stock, it would have to be Lomo 800.

It’s a versatile film stock that shines in lower light environments. I’ve used it during golden hour sunsets and in several portraits, and I love how the grain and colors come out.

Also, have you seen the prices for Lomo 800? All I can say is thank you!

Photos by Jonathan Mok on LomoChrome Purple 120 film

Do you have an all time favorite photo shot on Lomography medium format film? Is there a story behind it?

My favorite shot on Lomography medium format film would have to be the one with this person sitting on the side of Cliff House with the birds flying by. This was captured on my Hasselblad 500C/M with Lomo 800.

Having been raised in the Sunset District, the Cliff House and the surrounding Sutro Baths area are some of my favorite spots to shoot in San Francisco, especially during golden hour.

This shot stood out to me because unlike other photographers, I never seem to have birds fly into frame. Occasionally I’ll joke about whether or not I should just carry around bread crumbs to motivate them, which I do not recommend because it’s not good for their diet. But on this sunset, bread crumbs were not necessary as what seemed like an endless stream of birds continued to fly by.

I dub this shot the “what could have been” shot, because when I returned home, I realized one of the two rolls I shot had unraveled and I genuinely believed the photo was lost. I was able to breathe a sigh of relief when I developed the surviving roll and saw it. Then relief turned to excitement when I scanned it and saw how Lomo 800 represented the scene.

I think the circumstances that surrounded this shot, from the individual who decided to sit on the side of the cliff, the birds flying by, to the potential lost roll, all contribute to why it’s my favorite shot. When shooting film, there’s a lot that can be left to chance. What if I decided to not go out that day? What if I had captured it on the roll that unraveled? Sometimes it leads to heart-crushing failures, but sometimes it can provide a deeper appreciation for when the shot works out, or in this case, even better than imagined.

Photos by Jonathan Mok with the Diana F+ on Lomo 800 120 film

You've shared that you self-develop a lot of your film—what are the advantages to doing so?

I started self-developing and scanning film as a way to save money, a seemingly Sisyphean task when it comes to shooting film. But aside from financial benefits, I think developing your own film can provide a deeper sense of connection to your work. You become ultimately responsible for how everything comes out. It’s more work, but I like to see it as a labor of love.

Do you have any upcoming projects or shoots that you can share with our community?

This year I’m focused on getting a website up and working on a zine focused on my film photography in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

Anything else you'd like to share?

Thank you Lomography for providing me with the opportunity to share my work and a little bit of myself. Let’s keep 120 film alive! As always, shoot film and do good.


If you're interested in keeping up with Jonathan and his work, make sure to check out his Instagram and YouTube Channel!

written by eloffreno on 2024-04-11 #gear #culture #people #places #medium-format #120-is-forever #saving-120 #a-future-for-120

Mentioned Product

Lomography Diana F+

Lomography Diana F+

Take timeless and dramatic photos on 120 film with the Diana F+. Create stunning soft-focused images and customize it with sweet lenses or even an instant back for additional effects and flexibility.

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