Zhao Mengjia Explores Dreams and Ancient Traditions with the LomoKino


Zhao Mengjia ( Narabbit ), is a postgraduate student majoring in photography and graphic art at the China Academy of Art. Her work attempts to blur the boundaries between photography and painting, focusing on the natural landscape and the subconscious, using dreams as a rhetoric of images, and hoping to present works like her name (the ‘Meng’ in her name refers to ‘dream’ in Chinese).

In 2023, she released her personal photographic art collection "Sleep At the Junction of Day and Night 2023-2024 ", in which she also explores the theme of dreams. At the beginning of 2024, after learning that a traditional ceremony was being held on the seashore in Xiamen, she decided to take some photos of the event. For this, she used a LomoKino to capture the ceremony and culture of the southern coastal region. Today, she tells us more about her work and her experience with our LomoKino.

Zhao Mengjia’s Portraits

Hi Zhao Mengjia, welcome to Lomography Magazine! Can you introduce yourself?

Hi everyone, my name is Zhao Mengjia, born in 2000 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, and I am a postgraduate student in photography and graphic art at the China Academy of Art.

© Zhao Mengjia | LomoKino

Tell us about your photographic background. What does photography mean to you?

In fact, I've studied painting since I was a child, and I was enrolled in college as a fine art student. It was not until I became a sophomore that I began to learn photography. I have to admit that painting laid the foundation for my early aesthetic system and played a pivotal role. But since I started working with photography, I feel a kind of spiritual relief - I no longer need to be constrained by heavy painting tools and tedious painting steps, I can produce images anytime and anywhere with a camera or even a mobile phone.

I am also fascinated by the invisible reality of photography, which, like the subject I am most interested in, "dreams", is a compilation of reality between the swing of the scales of consciousness and the unconscious, both of which are reproducible and creative, and blur the boundaries between the real and the unreal, and skillfully balance the certain and the contingency.

These are things that are difficult to achieve in other mediums, and they are the unique essence of photography. For me, photography has changed the way I see, and made my sensory world more diverse. It is the medium I am most familiar with when it comes to conveying feelings from my inner world to the outside.

© Zhao Mengjia | Sleep At the Junction of Day and Night 2023-2024

It seems that your photos explore various concepts. How would you describe your photography style?

Recently, I have been focusing on "dreams" as my main concept, and I am attracted to dreamy landscapes and small romantic objects with the real world as the main body.

The concept of this piece made with the LomoKino is "All Immortal Things". Can you share with us your inspiration behind your concept?

Last December, I went to Xiamen to attend the Jimei x Arles International Photo Festival, and on the way back to the airport on the last day, I saw on the Internet that Xiamen was holding a ceremony to send off the king's boat by the sea, and the raging fire burned a huge ship like a dream.

Coastal areas, especially those of China, are rich in sacrificial culture and traditions. So during this year's Chinese New Year, I traveled to the Chaoshan region and Fujian province, took these photos with the LomoKino, and cut them into a short film, including fire jumping, lion dances, and Teochew theatre.

The ocean nurtures life and retains the mystery of nature. Along the coast, waves dance with sacrificial fire, where ancient beliefs mingle.

© Zhao Mengjia | LomoKino

How did you get into trying film photography? We saw that most of your previous photography is digital. What was it like using this film camera and B&W film for the first time?

When I was an undergraduate, I had a course in traditional photography, where I learned about film cameras, including the use of large-format cameras, as well as traditional darkroom techniques (film processing, contact impressions, hand magnification, etc.) I knew that it was complicated and difficult, so I chose a digital camera as my usual shooting equipment. I gave up the three-dimensional silver grain texture and higher latitude that is unique to film and pursued the instant shooting and lightness that digital brings. However this time, I shot on black and white film and a film camera, and I was able to regain the anticipation and unexpected surprise that comes from working with film.

© Zhao Mengjia | LomoKino

What was your experience shooting with the LomoKino and Lomography film?

It was my first time shooting a video on film, and I thought it was a very interesting and amazing experience. It can be a photo or an image, the photo freezes the moment, and the image restores the immersive picture. Even though the final video was cut out for just 46 seconds, I felt that it was precious. Moreover, the four frames of each film also make the photos more picturesque and dynamic. In the end, although there were some minor problems with some of the photos, such as scratches and dust, I felt it made my photos look more human and poetic. Compared to regular film, Lomo's film also has some special effects of its own.

Have you found that shooting with a Lomokino changed any of your photographic perspectives?

The LomoKino is very quick and easy to use. It was the first time I used it, and when I was shooting I was actually worried that there would be no image coming out in the very end, but the final result was beyond my expectations. Besides, the camera is lightweight, making it ideal as a portable camera for recording.

© Zhao Mengjia | LomoKino

Do you have any tips for others using the LomoKino for the first time?

It is advisable to load the film in advance to avoid being in a hurry when shooting. It is recommended to rotate at least three to four times in one frame, and try to keep the upper body stable when turning, so that the lens will switch more naturally when the final cut is a movie.

© Zhao Mengjia | Sleep At the Junction of Day and Night 2023-2024

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

I plan to continue shooting with the concept of "dreams" and make a photobook in the next year.

We thank Zhaomengjia for sharing her wonderful work! See more of her photography and artwork on her Red account.

written by ladyorange_zxc on 2024-05-02 #gear #people #videos #dear-young-shutterbugs #black-and-white #china #lomokino

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  1. nicktaurojr
    nicktaurojr ·

    GREAT video content and wonderful use of sound design, too. Inspiring work.

  2. stages-of-sleep
    stages-of-sleep ·

    The film 'A Touch of Zen' (1971) came into my mind.

  3. polaroidlove
    polaroidlove ·

    Wow, that was beautiful. 😊

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