Exactly 8 years ago, I started my ‘lomohome’ at lomography.com, under the username ‘silvertoes’. Lomo changed my eyes, my outlook, my life. I saw Lomo cameras in shops in the UK now and then - the kind of shops I’m immediately drawn to, in which they sell gadgets and great cards and other well-designed stationery - and picked them up and looked at them, and put them down. Finally, on a trip around 38 US states, I walked into the Lomo store in Miami and bought an LC-A Minitar 1. This image was captured on the first roll of film I put into it.
I remember many years ago saying to someone that I didn’t much like colours, that I preferred black and white and grey. I remember it now with a sort of aghast and disbelieving curiosity. Was that really me? The horror. That clunky little Lomo camera brought colour into my world, wild, hyper-real, cosmic colours. But what I most loved about the images I got with it was the mystery many of them seemed to contain. Sometimes when I’m walking around in the world, I suddenly sense a slippage in time or my sense of it, that there are corners of the world where time either doesn’t exist or where all times exist at the same time (I’m not sure which). There’s a strong old magic in that, I live for it, and that the LC-A seemed to catch it sometimes amazed and delighted me. It also seemed to capture the emotions I felt while looking at something as well as the thing itself. This went far beyond the ‘high contrast, strong colours, characteristic look you can quickly find overly formulaic’ reputation of the LC-A: it wasn’t just a matter of style, it was both more real and more … of the spirit?
As a bonus, I met some amazing people through lomoing too, like Tracy V Moore and Ulf Rehnholm. (I recently bought a toy camera shaped like a soda can purely to do one last ‘doubles’ photography project with Ulf. Results to be posted here later in the summer).
It wasn’t until I looked through the lens of my LC-A that I finally gave myself permission to be an artist, and to realise how thick I’d been to think all my life that I’d needed to. The LC-A showed me that ‘artist’ and human’ are synonymous, it’s just a question of waking up to that then acting on it. That life itself is an art.
One thing some people love about the LC-A or other film cameras is the unpredictability, the surprises you get after processing. It was this that led to the end of our relationship last year: too many times the film hadn’t loaded or advanced properly. I once had it repaired by driving across London while on a visit home, getting lost in the northern suburbs before finding the ramshackle house of apparently the only man on Earth who repairs LC-As. When it broke again last year I decided to give up the ghost. I found a lovely coffee shop here in Busan which has hundreds of photography books, and has a shelf with every camera imaginable on display, now that it has my lovely old Minitar there as well. So long, old pal. You taught me not just to look but to see.
Nowadays I use a digital camera, and am happy not to contribute anymore to the chemicals brought about by film processing. I miss my LC-A, but my years of lomoing definitely have an influence. Sometimes my captures still have that ineffable something, a kind of mystery. I’m closing my lomohome down over the next few weeks, too: from now on most of my images will end up here. (I don’t like the layout of the lomography site anymore). But I am, oh! so grateful to that little black Russian box with the little Fido-Dido-like character on it.