Capturing the Heart of Philadelphia with Roshan Basil & Lady Grey 120 Film


Analogue photographer, vintage camera collector, street documentarian, and DJ, Roshan Basil's (a.k.a. ShanSnapz) everyday life revolves around cameras and creativity.

Taking advantage of our Lady Grey 120 film's versatile range for detailed portraits and elegant architectural photography, the Philadelphia-based artist took to the streets on a cold winter's day to document some of the changes in his surrounding neighborhood.

Photos by Roshan Basil, shot on Lady Grey 120 film.

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

Hi, thank you and Lomography Magazine for the welcome and invitation. I was born and raised in North Philadelphia. While Philly has a pretty large population, it's actually more like a small town that poses as a big city. It's a place where a lot of us never even leave our neighborhoods, but I was fortunate enough to get away later on in life.

Since my early teens, my creative lanes were making beats and deejaying, which turned into a career that took me out to Nevada to run nightclubs and restaurants for Caesars Casino and reality TV show star Dennis Hof. I then later on went to Germany, Poland, and Brazil, where I lived and worked for a number of years in travel, tourism, and music. So, I have a very cosmopolitan outlook on life, mixed with a bunch of local Philly attitude and grit, which definitely influences my photography.

Photos by Roshan Basil, shot on Lady Grey 120 film.

How did you get started with analogue photography and street photography?

I didn't get into photography until fairly recently when I got laid off from my job as a Hotel Operations Director during the pandemic. During this time I went out and bought my first camera — a Sony A6500.

I started going down the photography rabbit hole and studying the work of classic photographers and came across Gordon Parks. There is this iconic photo of Gordon posing with a Nikon F that I saw and I said to myself, "That's a dope photographer, that's a dope camera, that's what I want to shoot." And I got one. Since then I've been collecting a variety of 35 mm and 120 antique and vintage film cameras from the 1930s - 1980s.

Because of the Pandemic, on most days the streets were empty, but with the George Floyd Protest and the 2020 Elections happening, there were also times when the streets lit up like crazy. Riots, rebellions, rallies, protests, National Guard troops with machine guns, it was all going on and I was going out shooting all of that stuff. It was a great time to really intuitively learn photography and develop my skills in shooting street and documentary style.

What did you decide to shoot with this roll of Lady Grey 120?

I decided to use Lady Grey to document some of my daily journeys. Most of it was shot in my neighborhood of West Poplar as well as in Chinatown and Center City, which my hood borders.

Photos by Roshan Basil, shot on Lady Grey 120 film.

Was this your first time shooting with Lomography film? What are your impressions of it?

No, I’ve been experimenting with Lomography film for about a year now. I started out shooting the more exotic stocks like LomoChrome Purple and Turquoise. It was my first time using Lady Grey though. I think its tone and vibe work especially well with my antique cameras like the Kodak Brownie.

Tell us about the camera you used to shoot these photos!

I shot these with a Kodak Brownie 50th Edition from 1930, that I've owned for about a year now. To celebrate their 50th anniversary, Kodak gave these cameras away for free at the time, with a roll of film to any child that turned 12 years old that year.

Photos by Roshan Basil, shot on Lady Grey 120 film.

Do you have a favorite shot from this series?

I have two favorites that especially hit close to home both literally and figuratively.

One is the "Save Chinatown No Arena" double exposure. It was my first time trying double exposure. I also live a few blocks from Chinatown, where they are trying to build a new NBA sports arena. The struggle of that community to fight the arena, over-development and gentrification is something I’m very familiar with in my own neighborhood, only a few minutes away.

This is the reason why the photo of the city from my window is also my favorite. It was taken from the window of my home, which is the same home I grew up in as a child. When I look out that window and look out at the city, I see and feel the displacement of being one of the few African-American families and African-American homeowners still left in my neighborhood. There's a feeling of uncomfortableness and despair, but strangely there is also this contradictory feeling of hope when I look out that window and realize that my family is still here and we're still holding on, along with a few other African-American families that still remain in the neighborhood.

What are the biggest inspirations behind your photography?

My biggest photography inspirations right now are Gordon Parks, Jamel Shabazz, Daido Moriyama, Miguel Rio Branco, Helmut Newton, Lewis Hine, and Vivian Maier.

I also get a lot of inspiration from other arts outside of photography like Le Corbusier architecture, Wes Anderson, Tarantino, and Kurosawa films, Caravaggio and Emory Douglas art, and the writings and music of James Baldwin and Nina Simone.

Photos by Roshan Basil, shot on Lady Grey 120 film.

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

I'm working on a pet project documenting some of the last remaining long-term community members and their homes in my rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of West Poplar. I'm also photographing a lot of the major changes that the gentrification has caused there and its after-effects. It's all going to be shot with my Kodak Brownie.

Anything else you'd like to share?

Thanks to everyone who follows and supports my work. And thank you very much Lomography for this dope opportunity to share.

Interested in keeping up with Roshan and his work? Make sure to follow his Instagram and check out his website.

written by eloffreno on 2024-05-04 #gear #culture #people #places #medium-format #120-is-forever #saving-120 #a-future-for-120

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One Comment

  1. polaroidlove
    polaroidlove ·

    Beautiful photographs. 🥰

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