The Lomography website describes the Lomo Instant Wide camera as;
“Combining high quality craftsmanship with versatile features, the Lomo’Instant Wide is the instant camera for any and every person who revels in capturing every beautiful, bizarre and bewildering moment in a creative and perfectly exposed way.”
(Lomography. (2017). Lomo Instant Wide Camera. Available: https://shop.lomography.com/en/cameras/lomo-instant-wide. Last accessed 21st June 2018.)
Completely taken in by their marketing and retro analogue sales tactics I purchased one of these cameras (after much haggling for the best offer available of course) at the photography show in Birmingham this March. A completely indulgent purchase I did question all the way home that evening why I had purchased a camera which would be considerably expensive to run when I already have a collection of Polaroid and Lomography film cameras at home. Something just spoke to me with this one though. Having not spent money on anything photographic for some time I felt this was the camera to kick start my inspiration and my journey back into photography.
I have finally taken time to get to know the camera and its features and I have to say I am not disappointed. What started out as a clear out and a chance to organize my kit ready for shoots at the weekend turned into an afternoons development of ideas and hopefully the concept for my assignment portfolio.
One of my main reasons for purchasing this camera over others was that the user has more control over shots that on a standard Polaroid camera. The multiple exposure feature had me sold on its own but the flash filters, extra lenses and remote features are definitely an added bonus. The flash sync socket could be incredibly useful if I delve as far as shooting with this camera in the studio with bands or at shows, although I think the long exposure and bulb setting could create some incredible effects at a live show.
So why Lomography?
My intentions when joining the MA cohort were to develop my skills as a photographer but also to develop my own style and sense of belonging within the medium of photography. As I have stated in previous blogs I am a traditionalist at heart. The analog medium to me is untouchable. I find digital photography very clinical and pristine. Although effects, filters and techniques can be applied to give the analog aesthetic I much prefer camera and processing experimentation.
Lomography photography is a great way to experiment with analogue. Its emergence and popularity has sparked some quite interesting debates within our department at work. A definite favorite of the artists it seems less popular with the traditional photographers on the team. The outlook seems to be that the cameras are toys rather than tools which I find very interesting.
So how does the retro camera fit this portfolio?
The idea of using this camera actually came to me whilst researching the band I am due to shoot this weekend. The Atoms describe themselves as;
“Three peace punk-rock/old school pop punk from sunny old Derby UK”
(Atom, Joe. (2017). The Atoms. Available: https://theatomsuk.bandcamp.com/music. Last accessed 21st June 2018.)
I first saw them play live a couple of years ago and loved their sound, catchy songs and at times very humorous lyrics. They also caught my attention because of their personal vintage style and the influence of late nineteen fifties/early nineteen sixties doo wop and surf style influences apparent in their music.
The thing I love about bands like this is they do not take themselves too seriously. They are passionate and energetic but the music is for fun and enjoyment and this is one of the reasons I have wanted to photograph them for some time.
After discussions with tutor Paul Clements and the group during our weekly webinars we discussed the possibility of photographing more of the behind the scenes of bands and musicians and trying to capture their essence and personalities as individuals as well as a group. Considering these points this was another aspect that led me to this band as I feel they will be up for anything and I won’t need to prompt behaviour as having spent time with them in the past at shows they are always having a laugh and up for fun.
Taking into consideration the bands style I think the Lomography wide camera is a prime choice for this assignment as I feel it will add to the vintage stylings of the band and the mood during their recording shoot. As the band are quite relaxed I intend to keep my shoot relaxed. I will take a digital SLR as a backup and to take initial test shots of the room and lighting conditions etc. From that point I will open up my kit, take all lenses and flash filters and see what happens. Much of this shoot will be left to trial and experimentation but I am hoping it will provide me with some material for the portfolio assessment in the positions and practice module.
Please take a moment to check out the band and some of their material at https://theatomsuk.bandcamp.com/music.
Ideas, concepts and the trial
Upon researching the work of photographer Duane Michals I found myself truly inspired by his use of text and handwriting around his black and white images. Again during discussions with my tutor and my course peers I discussed in depth how the lyrics to my favourite pieces of music are, as Barthes theorizes, the punctum. They are often the point that impacts or moves me emotionally. The music itself often has the same effect but it creates the tones for the mood, yet doesn’t always motivate the personal and spiritual connection as the lyrics do.
As my passion for lyrics became more apparent I decided to explore the use of lyrics to reinforce the image with some experiments at home. As my house reflects my passion for music and I thought it would be a prime location to experiment prior to my studio location shoot booked this weekend. As my partner is a musician I thought it would be interesting to experiment with him in some images and see if any of his lyrics sprang to mind once I had taken a few shots.
As it transpires it was harder than expected. Out of the five images I took only one had a line of a song that instantly came to me. This was for the image titled “These days”. As soon as the image had developed and I saw the vignette effect (caused by experimenting with the wide angle lens), that line instantly popped in my head. Unfortunately, the digital shot doesn’t do the image justice in terms of colour tones as the original looks much better, however you can see how the colour and tone effects the narrative of the image.
From these experiments I was sold on the idea of using instant film. Although pricey I feel that the Polaroid frame adds to the vintage feel of the bands style and the idea of memory or reflection which is prevalent in their music. I love the colours and tone of the images and despite not being technically accurate and perfect I feel the images have a different dimension which benefits from this. As you can see from the digitally created Polaroid template the look is far too crisp and clinical to be used for this kind of work.
As I have been looking at old punk rock images and artwork from the bands back catalogue I have been greatly inspired by the old DIY gig flyers. Seeing them appear in punk documentaries and films and in band artwork made me think about the possibilities of their use as a back drop or template for the Polaroids to sit on when being photographed. This is something I will definitely experiment with. I feel it could add another dimension to my work and as I want to work in a more multi-disciplinary fashion this could be the perfect start.
Here are some of the notes and scribbles I have been making whilst putting my ideas together. I will be posting a literary review very soon of the materials I have been reading and also an update on how my shoots are developing and my project is progressing further.