How much of a dedicated Lomographer are you to have an image of our beloved LOMO LC-A+ with wings permanently tattooed on you? LomoAmigo Cameron Russell proudly displays his inked love for Lomography. Let’s hear what he has to say…
Real Name: Cameron Russell
City: Austin, TX
Please, for the community members not already familiar with you and your work will you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you have been a Lomographer.
Sure. I’m a 29 year old guy who was aching for an artistic outlet until I found Lomography. I work a corporate job for a big computer company. I’ve always been a fringe culture kind of guy. Always looking for something I was good at that didn’t require others to help me create. I used to act in front of cameras for movies my friends would make in their spare rooms, in jr high. I sang in high school choir. I did community theater. I tried the Speech team in college. I worked at the best ice cream store in Austin. I enjoyed it all, but none of it grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me till I understood. So up until about a year and a half ago, I was just a fun loving guy who knew way too much about movies and made people laugh.
I discovered Lomography in Oct of ‘08. I got a Holga and a Colorsplash that x-mas. So, I’ve been a Lomographer for a little over a year and a half. I got my LC-A+ 3 months later. Everything changed. Lomography came in and gave me this big arrow in my life. Go this way! I’ve got a direction for you. I’ve followed it and discovered more about myself and my surroundings than I ever imagined.
How did you land this LomoAmigo gig?
Well, I had designed my tattoo on my 1 year anniversary of having my LC-A+. About a month and a half later, I sat down for 5 hours and made it happen. The artist, Jeff Ensminger, had changed it some, but the results were far more powerful than I was imagining. I posted it on my flickr stream and twitter. People were very positive about it.
About three weeks later I was getting ready to go to lunch when I had a thought. I bet the Lomography Society would get a real kick out of this. So I tagged you folks in a twitter post linking to my pic.
I believe I said “Hey! @lomography This should prove that you shouldn’t doubt my commitment to Lomo for life!”
I guess it got your attention…
What made you want to get a tattoo and why the Lomo LC-A+ with wings?
This was my fourth tattoo. It is the biggest I have and also the one I’m most proud of. I get tattoos of the things that remind me of something important in my life. Before, they were more symbolic. This one is literal, in the case of the LC-A+, and metaphorical regarding the wings.
I shot with the Holga and the Colorsplash for a few months, when I first got them. They were fun. I got some neat results. But I was having a hard time following the 1st rule of Lomography. Neither one was really something I could carry and have ready. I still love them and shoot with my Holga often, but they weren’t doing the trick and my pictures weren’t really coming out the way I saw them in my mind.
The LC-A+ changed everything. I had more control. It fit in my back pocket. The controls were simple and required little thought. It got out of my way and let me get the picture I was seeing in my mind’s eye. I could take multiple exposures that worked so much better than the other cameras I was using. All of a sudden, I felt like I had a talent. Like, maybe I was naturally good at something, for once in my life. I was creating effortless beauty.
So why the LC-A+? Because it gave me confidence in myself. People really started noticing things I was shooting. It awoke my eye to always searching for the beauty in my environment.
The wings symbolize the camera lifting me from a future where I had no outlet; no future I could be proud of. Working at a computer company was not how I pictured my life and I didn’t know my direction from there. The LC-A+ has given me wings to fly above boring walks, bad dates, and the daily grind. I am going places and the LC-A+ is going to be right there with me. Shutter open and shutter cranked.
What got you into analogue again or for the first time and what cameras do you use?
I guess I should point out I had never really worked with film before all this. It took me 4 months of shooting before I started wondering what all this ISO business was about. I played with a digital point and shoot for a year before hand. Taking pictures of concerts, graffitti on trains as they passed, and freinds jumping on hotel beds. Nothing special. I barely knew how to work it.
I found an app on my phone that put filters over my phone pics. It had one called a Helga. There was instantly something about the colors that touched somewhere deep. Like I had found a warm blanket I had forgotten about wrapped around my heart. I looked up the app info and found out it was emulating..you guessed it, The Holga.
I did my research and decided I wanted one for x-mas. You guys had so many cool cameras, but this one seemed accessable, uncomplicated, and would let me do multiple exposures. I had stumbled across multiples in my search for Holga shots. That concept blew my mind!
I have picked up over 20 different vintage film cameras since then. I shoot with my LC-A+ daily. It never leaves my side. Trips to the corner store or dinner at a fancy restaurant with parents. Doesn’t matter. The others I use often are my Holga, Minolta Instant Pro, Smena 35, Yashica D, Polaroid Macro 5 SLR, Vivitar UW&S, and an older Canon EOS Rebel 2000 my dad gave me. Anything that does multiple exposures or that I can trick into doing my bidding.
You have said that one of your favorite techniques is double exposure. What is it for you that makes this photography so appealing?
I have just recently been trying to put this into a clearer thought. Before, I just thought they were neat and pretty. I couldn’t pin down my facination. Here is what I’ve come up with:
I want to shoot what isn’t there. What’s in our minds. Melding images together the way our memories come to us. Not clear sharp pictures, but thoughts and emotions bleeding into each other tangentially. When you remember a party, you don’t remember a single picture of everyone dancing in the living room. You remember the soft but dirty couch you sat on, the ugly chandelier that lit the room, a tree you stared at while sharing a cigarette outside, that one really funny guy you met while waiting in line at the keg, the hallway to the bathroom you walked down too many times, an ugly rug, and that tattoo on that girl’s back you couldn’t stop staring at all night. It all melds together into one impression.That’s what Multiple Exposures can do that singles can’t.
Capture life the way you remember it and not the way it happened.
Do you plan your double exposures or is there a process you use to get such interesting results?
Oh, I could go on about how I choose what to do doubles with. I’ve written several blog posts about different aspects. Some of it can’t be put into words. You just have to walk with me and after a while you start noticing the things I do. Here are my overall thoughts. I love accidents. I forget what the last exposure was sometimes. I get great results from that. But when I’m focused, when I’m walking the streets I have different thoughts. I’m looking for textures, patterns, and shadows. Those make great base images. Strong subject matter mixed with those is really all it takes. Pay attention to the colors you’re shooting because white, yellow, baby blue, and pastels will wash out your second exposure. Reds, blues, and greens are your friends. I have a second LC-A+ now, so I use one for texture rolls I can shoot over later and one for day to day shooting. I hate having to sit on a good shot till you find something to mix it with or finding a great pattern and only getting a few shots because there isn’t enough cool stuff to double it with in the general vicinity.
Regardless, when I shoot in my day to day life, it is all spontaneous.
If I have a friend volunteer to take some portraits with me, I’ll shoot a roll ahead of time and just mark where I started. I have 5-6 rolls to pull from nowadays. If I travel, I’ll take texture rolls with me and bring some back from there, too.
What was the strangest, funniest, or hands-down greatest photographic/ Lomographic encounter that you’ve have had so far?
You really pegged me on this one. Funniest/Strangest was when I was in DC, helping a friend move back to Austin via road trip. We were coming back from a bar around 2:30 am and got to her apt. She had forgotten her parents had her keys. So we took a drunken walk to their hotel about 3 miles away. Normally, I would have been a bit frustrated at the situation. Instead I laughed and thought about how much film I still had in my LC-A+. With that and my colorsplash flash, the night belongs to me when I’m in a strange city. So as we’re walking along, I see this strange statue up ahead. It has a short gate around it, but it’s arm’s length away. I already had a shot from the subway escalators going down into the tunnel. So, as I got close I figured I’d double it. Turns out the statue was of a blind beggar reaching his hand up for a donation. It was in front of a church or mission. As we walked past, I stuck my arm out above it and popped my flash. I got about half a step more before I heard angry startled grumbling. I turned back towards the statue and see that not 6 ft away there was a homeless man on a bench who had been asleep. I didn’t get the Spanish he spoke, but my friend said he wanted money for me taking a picture of him.
We walked on, but I could help but think about how odd it was that the statue was his surrogate for begging. I took a picture of a beggar statue only to have another come to life and do the same thing. Funny and odd.
If your gallery had a soundtrack what 3 songs would definitely be on it? (song title & artist please)
- Singapore – Tom Waits
- Tao of Now – Saul Williams
- Mouthful of Diamonds – Phantogram
What are some of the project you are working on now that we can look forward to?
I have two big things in the works and I’m grinding myself down to make them happen. I have my first solo show happening on Aug 30th . It’s a one night engagement at the Lustre Pearl, from 7pm-11pm in Austin, TX. I’ve never really shown my work before and someone came along and made this happen for me.
I’m also finishing a book of my first year and a half in Lomography. It is an 8×10 hardcover with 80 pages of LC-A+, Holga, and Polaroid shots. I’m taking the time to note films used and including the short story of how each shot happened. It’s launching the same night as my show.
Folks can follow my facebook page or blog for further updates on the show and where to get the book, when it’s available.
My hands are full this month and I love it!
Your advice for would-be Lomographers or people thinking of going analogue?
Don’t dip your toe in. Just plunge. The only way to figure out how to do this is to try. Studying theory, numbers, and other people’s work doesn’t get you what experience does. The more you shoot, the more you learn. If I had sat down and studied ISO usage, apertures, and shutter speed I wouldn’t have made as many mistakes and discovered so many new things. Shoot 100 iso on an overcast rainy day and use your flash. Stop using your viewfinder. It chains your camera to a perspective of only where your face can get to. If you know the rules then you know your boundaries. No rules, No boundaries.
If you get bored, just go take a Lomo walk. You get to know your surroundings better because you aren’t taking your normal daily routes and your Lomo third eye will wake up.
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Also join the Lomo Body Art Rumble designed just for you by Cameron him self