Bonni Walquist: Shooting Americana on Lomography Cameras and Film

Longtime community member Bonni Walquist has had a history of capturing the spirit of the USA on Lomography cameras and film. From East Coast to West Coast and everywhere in between, she has photographed those quiet corners of America that are often only explored by road trippers and nomads.

Featuring her favorite Lomography photos from the past few years, as well as a Diana F+ series in the name of saving 120, Bonni is here today to introduce our audience to her work and her artistic process.

Photos by Bonni Walquist.

Hi Bonni, welcome to Lomography Magazine! Can you start off by telling us a little bit about yourself and your work?

Hello! My name is Bonni Walquist and I currently live in Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA where I am a Special Education Teacher. I live with my boyfriend and our dog, Pecan. I love road trips, exploring outdoors, roadside attractions, and experimental photography. I like to think of my cameras as companions who help me document the magic of the world around me. All of my cameras have their own quirks and take photos with a personality specific to them. I have lived and traveled all over the United States and I like to think of my growing body of work as a living document showing the natural beauty and dynamic richness of Americana. The majority of my photos are taken outdoors, often in more remote locations, and document the ways in which we interact with the world around us.

When and how did you discover Lomography?

About 15 years ago I was living in Brooklyn, New York and going through a prolonged and painful breakup with my longtime boyfriend and first love. As a parting gift he gave me a Diana F+ camera. It took me a few more years (and more heartbreak) before I finally was able to pick up that camera, load it, and channel all my emotion into creating art. My first roll of film only had one good photo on it but that was enough. I was hooked.

Photos by Bonni Walquist shot on LomoChrome Purple.

What is your favorite Lomography product to shoot with and why?

I love LomoChrome Purple. When I am out in the world with my cameras my goal is to capture that feeling of awe – that “I’m so lucky to be experiencing this” feeling. LomoChrome Purple takes those moments and adds an element of magical realism that not only brings me back to the moment, but the feeling of being in the moment. In addition, I love infrared photography, it’s hard not to love a tree with puffy pink leaves, but near impossible to find infrared film (plus, if you do, it’s a huge gamble). LomoChrome Purple is a perfect and reliable filmstock I always have on hand.

Photos by Bonni Walquist.

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

At this point I’ve shot thousands of photos and most have a component of Lomography. I love when a double exposure works out better than I could have imagined or a light leak appears in just the right place. Those are the components of a photo I am aesthetically proud of. A favorite gets a little bit more personal.

A few years ago I made the decision to drive across the country from my home in Oregon to spend the summer in my hometown – Minneapolis, Minnesota. I turned it into a solo road trip that took a little over a week and included three national parks, a national monument, campgrounds, sand dunes, roadside attractions, abandoned places, hot springs, and mountains. I was terrified.

One of my last stops was Badlands National Park in South Dakota. It was a very hot day but I was excited to hike so I packed up my backpack full of my cameras and set off to do a few miles. The hike I chose had a rope ladder up the side of a cliff which I was excited and nervous for. As I approached the ladder it was a lot larger than I anticipated but there were a lot of supportive people around and I took it one rung at a time and made it to the top. I felt accomplished not only for tackling the ladder, but for making it through the whole challenging trip. At the top I pulled out my Holga and shot a photo of the ladder. The depth of field is so narrow that the surrounding rocks are blurry but the ladder is perfectly in focus. Aesthetically I'm really proud of the photo, but I am really proud of the memory too.

Also, every photo of my dog is my favorite.

Photos by Bonni Walquist.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

I’m drawn to romanticizing classic Americana, much the same way Lana Del Rey does in her music. I love my Diana because it not only takes dreamy photos but it looks dreamy as well. I want my photos to look the way living feels. It’s raw and dreamy and heartbreaking but so beautiful. I find a lot of inspiration in nature, from the love I've experienced, from the things and people I've lost, from how lucky I am. Film photography helps me see the moments I am in as I am in them. Every frame counts just like every moment counts. When I started taking photos it was all about getting a “good” photo but now the photos are just a part of me living my life on my terms. “Good” or “not good” doesn't really matter. Life is messy and full of mistakes, art should reflect that.

What is generally your favorite subject matter to photograph?

My favorite subject matter is nature. I love being in nature. A lot of the time the encompassing beauty of nature is impossible to capture and the photos I take serve more as reminders of having been somewhere.

The most satisfying subjects to photograph are roadside attractions and abandoned places. I love gimmicks and I love when places feel haunted. A good roadside attraction feels like a bit of both. Nothing tops a place that is nestled between long stretches of open road and feels lost in time. If it has a large cement dinosaur painted pink – even better!

Photos by Bonni Walquist shot with the Diana F+.

Can you tell us a bit about what you recently shot with the Diana F+?

Recently, I was asked to shoot a roll of Lomo 400 with my Diana F+ for Lomography. Although at one time my Diana was my go to camera, I actually had not used her in a couple years. On top of that I have the Diana F+ lens kit which has a few lenses I've never used. When my cousin (and dear friend) asked me to go to a kite/art festival on Lake Harriet, a local lake in the heart of Minneapolis. I knew that would be the perfect opportunity to get some fun photos. It's been a mild winter here in Minneapolis, Minnesota (the city of lakes) and we got very lucky with a few days cold enough to freeze the lakes and make them safe to walk on. I decided it would be fun to test out the Diana fisheye lens. The day, however, was overcast which always makes me nervous for film shoots.

I had very low expectations for the photos. As you can see the sky is very grey but the photos were, thankfully, not too dark. Looking back now I love how the photos show the whimsy and spirit of Minnesotans who have grown so accustomed to the environment here they are willing to go out on a chilly grey day to celebrate art, our local lakes, support local businesses, and to just fly kites together. The event was put on in collaboration with the Art Shanty Project who runs the program to put immersive art on a frozen lake. On their website they describe the project as an opportunity to "embrace the challenges and opportunities of winter and the ephemeral nature of a frozen winter landscape". It's been so warm this winter, the art shanties were only able to grace the lake for one weekend this year – very ephemeral indeed!

The exposure latitude of Lomo 400 mixed with the wide angle of the fish eye lens really allowed me to capture the joys of winter and show community. I love how the reds pop especially on the sled fish, "gingerbread" house and dragon house. When I think about my Diana F+ the first word that comes to mind is whimsical. You never know with certainty what you are going to get and that is the joy of it. It was the perfect companion for this project and I'm thankful to Lomography for this opportunity. Maybe I'll become a winter person after all...

Photos by Bonni Walquist.

Do you have any recent or upcoming projects you'd like to share with our community?

I took a trip to Palm Springs, California that brought me up a mountain and out to the desert. I spent two days in Joshua Tree National Park and shot SO MANY photos. I’m excited to develop them and hopeful that there will be some good (if not great) ones. I already have 50+ Polaroids I’m very excited about.

Anything else you'd like to share?

One thing I have often struggled with is being frustrated when a photo does not match my vision or when I make a stupid mistake. I always need to remind myself to “don’t think, just shoot.” I’m coming to terms with the fact that I'm not the kind of person who is going to have a “fancy” camera or a ton of nice lenses or know what filter is right for every situation. I don’t have time for that. Exploration drives photography, not the other way around, and I just want to keep moving.

Thanks Bonni for joining us! If you would like to keep in touch with Bonni, you can find her on Instagram or her website.

written by alexa_alexiades on 2024-05-11 #people #120 #america #roadtrip #usa #diana-f #lomochrome-purple

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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