How much do you think before you shoot? In many cases, photography is a meditative practice which awakens our senses as we look for the perfect way to capture light and create perspectives. Still, results can turn out differently, and at the end of the day, "it doesn't have to be a masterpiece," as community member Tamara, a.k.a. @pearlgirl77 says.
In this edition of Dear Young Shutterbugs, Tamara writes about her roots as a photographer, her long-time affair with Lomography and its experimental cameras and film stocks, and a few helpful pieces of advice to beginner film photographers.
Tamara has been a community member since the early days of the Lomography website, and even wrote a few creative tipsters and tutorials for fellow film photographers. Let's get into her letter!
Greetings from Tamara, aka @pearlgirl77!
It started really naturally with film photography for me because there was no digital at that time. I was 15 years old when I got my first simple secondhand Revue SLR as a gift. Before that I just used my mother's point-and-shoot camera.
A few years later I trained as a photographer and during that time digital photography came up. At some point I even shot only on digital because it was easier and faster and offered more possibilities to edit, but at the end of the day I got bored and returned to analogue.
It was just more exciting for me to experiment with expired and cross-developed films and different cameras. Especially because multiple exposures are always an excitement. The fact that you don’t have to decide how to edit the photo after you chose the film, made it way more pleasant to me.
I think it was around 2010 when I discovered Lomography on the internet. One year later, in 2011, I attended the Lomography store opening in Cologne, where I bought my still beloved La Sardina. It’s still one of my favorite cameras by Lomography and here we have one of my favorite photos from the first roll with it in Cologne:
I have wonderful memories of the Lomo weekend 2014 in Karlsruhe, which was organized by a few Lomographers. We stayed overnight in a youth hostel and had some fascinating activities around photography.
Unfortunately I couldn’t join the second meeting, which makes me still kind of sad. Here is one of my favorite photos, again with the La Sardina, which was the result of the long exposure workshop during that weekend:
I cannot find my worst in my collection anymore, but there are quite a few. In most cases, my worst photos are the heavily over or underexposed ones. Among the others, I usually find something interesting or okay-ish.
To choose my best one is not easy. There are so many cool photos, but there is a film-camera combo I truly love: my Pentacon Six and the LomoChrome Purple.
My camera collection hasn't changed much over the years. Right now I wish for a LomoApparat, hoping to soon have some money left over to buy it. Nowadays I need the right motive and atmosphere to shoot film.
Since I have photographed everything in my city over and over again, most things are not interesting enough to be captured on film. However, for excursions, double exposure ideas or exciting filters, I still like to grab one of my analogue cameras. Just this year I started again with analogue photography, and photography in general, and I am already looking forward to the next trips with my camera treasures and wonderful old films.
I can’t really say that I found my own personal style because I have always been interested in all kind of things and experiments. I just shoot for fun, without having bigger ideas or a goal in mind.
Dear young shutterbugs, the best motto is still don't think just shoot, but with the current prices for film, you might want to think a bit.
A lot of people have already taken photos on digital with their phone at least. So on the one hand, I would decide which photos I like the most to see where my strengths and preferences lie, be it nature, street or architecture photography and so, which can be always good with a SLR and the right lens.
However, if you want to use a experimental camera, I would say decide which photos you really like that were taken by fellow Lomographers. Because not every experimental camera is suitable for every subject. This way, you can probably reduce the number of bad shots.
It’s always a good idea to spend time checking out how the camera works in order to avoid too much waste and frustration. In many cases, the easiest way to great results with experimental cameras is to shoot in sunlight - always keep that in mind. In the best case, you should always have two cameras with you.
With all this in mind, don't forget to experiment with multiple exposures, effect filters, color filters, prisms and whatever else is exciting on earth. No Lomographer gets away without mistakes and waste.
Even after so many years, I still produce pictures that are simply bad, but they should not get the upper hand. First work your way in slowly and then experiment more and more wildly when you know the camera better.
And now, get out there, grab your camera, start taking pictures and please upload your great pictures here. It doesn't always have to be a masterpiece to inspire or delight someone!
We'd like to thank Tamara for sharing her images and stories with us throughout these years! To keep in touch, visit her LomoHome.
Through this series, we hope to inspire a new generation of film photographers to dip their toes into the craft and learn from the adventures and advice of some of our long-standing community members. You may view previous letters here.
Want to write your own letter? Connect with firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject Dear Young Shutterbugs!