“I never thought someone would find interest in interviewing me about Lomography. Considering myself as a newbie in comparison to many experienced lomographers, I feel privileged to share my private thoughts on the subject.” – @lakandula
There’s always an interesting story to every Lomographer – what would be your Lomo story?
June 2008. After visiting enchanting Batanes Islands and relying on my friends’ digital cameras for souvenir photos, I decided I should get my own. I got a cybershot camera before but easily got bored using it and a film cam would be a welcome alternative. I was browsing a Mac users forum when I read about Holgas sold at P1800 in Hidalgo – the Mecca of photographers in Manila. Tried searching for more info and I found the lomomanila site but didn’t have time to go through a hundred threads of info. So I came to Hidalgo, I saw her and I conquered her.
Flashback. Sometime in 2005 or earlier (couldn’t remember exactly). I’ve learned about lomography through a filmmaker friend who took pictures of us using her Oktomat when we were giving a workshop in Dumaguete. Without looking through a viewfinder, she just clicked the shutter button of this 8-lens red plastic cam, advanced the film and then clicked again. It was easy to use that even a kindergarten kid would find it a no-brainer. But I shrugged off the idea of getting one at that time thinking these toycams come at pretty prices and the hobby would be a luxury.
Back to 2008. Learning how a Holga could be that affordable at P1800, I rushed to Hidalgo and searched the stores – found the Avenue and was presented a line of Holgas in 120 and 35mm formats. They’re all cold black and plastic. Not what I expected – as my mind is still within the frame of a toy-looking red Oktomat. I was told the cheapest is already 2,000 Pesos and the top of the line is around 4,500 Pesos. I asked for other colors but only black was available.
I told the saleslady I’d be back. I needed some time to think it over.
Then I went store-hopping asking for lomography cameras. Little did I know that the “Do you have lomo cams?” cue gave away some business-savvy Hidalgo people the impression “Oh my, another lomo newbie who has no idea about the items and the cost.” Good thing, most stores I visited did not have lomography cameras at that time. A woman I asked told me to visit M2O. On the glass display stood a cute camera in black and blue-green (at least that breaks the solid black color) with a vintage-looking flash bulb. It seemed to beg my attention. I went inside the store and inquired about the camera – a Diana F+ with Flash. It came with a hefty price of 5,500 Pesos. I tried to haggle for a discount. They were giving it at 5,400 Pesos – still a high price for me. Then I told them the usual polite exit line: – "I’ll just be back for it.”
On my way out of Hidalgo, I walked through the narrow crowded street filled with items from dried fish, vegetables, old clothes, and plumbing materials to anything saleable. By some strange serendipity, the music being played in the radio was the popular tune Diana by some I-forgot-his-name 60’s or 70’s singer. It was perfectly at that portion of the song where the words are “Diana…”
Hmmmm. It seemed that the universe was conspiring for me to get the Diana instead of a Holga.
I left Quiapo and headed to Taft with that enchanting tune lurking in my mind like an elevator music. After going through congested traffic and Manila pollution, I found myself standing at the corner of Nakpil and Taft, waiting for the Skyway bus with a dissonance in my heart. I couldn’t get myself up the series of buses that passed me by. Something was holding my feet on the ground. Then I decided to cross the street and rode a jeepney back to Sta. Cruz. Got off at Avenida. Walked back to M2O where I found the people so surprised to see me back… so soon. I tried to put my social skills to action and this time it seemed to work. I was able to haggle the price down to 5,200 Pesos plus free 120mm film. Maybe not the best bargain for a veteran lomo enthusiast and Hidalgo habitue but good enough to pacify the conflict in my heart and quell the possibility of frustration of not having my own beautiful brand new Diana at that time. I followed my bliss against a higher price I was expecting to pay. However, it’s the best deal I could get at that very moment when the forces of the universe seemed to align with me. I left M2O with smiles up to my ears, unmindful of the petty fight going on between rival street vendors.
The rest is a continuing saga of lomo addiction, gear acquisition syndrome, empty wallet and depleted bank account. But no complaints. Life is short and I have so many lomographs to shoot.
What is the reason behind your Lomo name?
lakandula = lakan + dula.
Lakan, a royal title similar to the Rajah, matches my very Filipino surname ‘Bunyi’ which means rejoice.
Dula is the local term for theater which is my bread and butter and artistic passion – aside from lomography.
Why analog? Why not digital?
Nothing compares to the thrill of knowing that once you click the shutter you capture light that reacts to the film material and the image you tried to freeze for a moment is stored in the film particles. And once developed (especially when cross-processing slides) you’re in for a beautiful surprise! Plus… I love the sheer fun of breaking the rules, vignettes, saturated colors, happy accidents, lomowalks and the fun of collaborating with fellow lomographers.
Both analog and digital photography have their own place in the world. Whether I capture it in film or not, the bottomline for me is creating images that present my viewpoint and tell the split-second story I am witnessing at that very moment when I click the shutter button. Maybe I’ll get lucky to capture images that affect people’s senses and touch the very fabric of their souls and allow them to spiral into positive transformation (at least on the personal level). I respect digital photographers who have mastered the art of manipulating their shots to create stunningly perfect photographs. But my heart just goes for the raw analog shots. For me, a digital photo paints a thousand words but an analog one is a universe in itself.
Can you tell about your best lomo shot. What, where, and why this photo?
Every photograph that I take is personally meaningful to me. All of them are part and parcel of my lomographic journey. Even the crappy ones, overexposed, underexposed, start of the roll and end of the roll shots were creative moments expressing my soul and how I view my world. I’d rather be defined by the thousand so-so shots that are parts of my growth process than by a single best shot. I’m a work-in-progress. Not a finished product. I’m just happy shooting pictures. My lomographs have become the visual journal of my life from age 38 onwards. Before that, I believe I was a zombie.
If you were a Lomo camera, what would you be and why?
I’ll be happy to be all of them. Every cam has its distinct qualities and effects. Why limit to one when I can be all? You may label it as being greedy but I love the playfulness of using different cameras to see even the same thing in a myriad of perspectives.
But if the choice should only be one, I’ll say I’ll be an LCA+.
Why? Visit my lomohome and see why.
What is your Lomo style?
Lomo style seems to connote a signature pattern in the way one does lomography. I guess I’m eclectic. But really… I’m still trying to evolve my own. But at the moment, the following points define most of my lomographs – doubles using multiple cameras, chaos of superimposed images, horror vacuity, use of flash even on a bright day, lots of colors, exploring various cameras, slides and redscale galore, cross-processing, lots of self-portraits and breaking the rules. Lomo rocks!
The Lomography staff is reading this interview right now, and I’m sure they’ll be very interested in your suggestions – what else do you want to see in the “revamped” Lomography website? Monthly free piggies? Anything! Remember… they are reading this right now.
Who wouldn’t want free piggies?
Maybe the photo of the day can come with a brief background written by the lomographer so those viewing it need not only appreciate the aesthetics of the lomograph but the context by which it is created by the lomographer. For me that is something worth knowing.
There’s a Lomo Legend that an unfound Lomo Genie Bottle is lying around the world somewhere out there. If you find this, you only get to choose three Lomo wishes – a Lomo camera that you currently do not own, any film of your choice, and your dream location. What camera? What film? And where in the world would you spend these Lomo wishes?
Horizon Perfekt and Lubitel 166+ plus tons of Lomography XPro 100 slides to capture the beauty of rustic Burma and Nepal. It won’t hurt to do sidetrips to Europe like ancient Rome and Greece or see Russia, the birthplace of LCA.
Hold on, there’s a fourth wish – who among our fellow Lomographers would you like to collaborate with for this “wish project”, and why?
Novakmisi as his years of experience doing professional photography manifest beautifully in his lomographs. I love his play with colors and textures.
Satomi for her experimental masks and fantastic doubles. She’s just a brilliant lomographer with a Midas touch that whatever lomo cam she uses the shots turn out never short of fantastic!
Kylethefrench for his awesome lightpainting and long exposures through his modified cams. His brave crazy experiments are just out-of-the-box.
Just for kicks – - Does your Mom know that you like smelling films and that you’re into Lomography?
I don’t have a fetish for smelling films but my mom knows I’m addicted to lomography. The entire chiller of the fridge has become home to my stash of films and my lomographs hang on the walls and from the ceiling of our humble house. Hahaha!