Creative independence is wonderful in the sense it helps us train our own skills and minds when we perceive or make art. However, we think it's even better when you pair it up with the social and communal experience. Film photography is now a niche interest as digital is now more common and mainstream. For us creative photographers who prefer alternative techniques, tools, and processes, we need to start engaging and sharing analogue knowledge and love.
A Brief on Past Photo Communities and Why They Matter
Defining a photographers' community is very simple: it's a group of photographers who happen to share the same set of interests, goals, and sometimes styles in their routine.
Photographers' communities already existed since photography's early history. One of the famous groups is the Photo-Secession, a group established by fine art photography pioneer Alfred Stieglitz and F. Holland Day to promote Pictorialism. There was also the Linked Ring, which shares the same goals with Photo-Secession, only this group was more exclusive and invitation-only.
The Boston Camera Club in Massachusetts is still alive and kicking – a group founded in 1881 to cater to the interests of amateur photographers. There was also the renowned f/64, a seven-member community who sought for modern, sharp-focus aesthetic when capturing Western America. In f/64 was where prominent icons such as Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham, and Willard Van Dyke came from. Becoming immersed with the social experience in photography is how you improve as a shooter, and if you dare to dream bigger with your analogue camera, being a part of a community will unlock more opportunities.
It's easy and simple to understand why analogue shooters should be more engaged in a community. As film photographers, we're going against the grain in the digital age. We need every opportunity we can get now more than ever.
Welcome to the Analogue Club Culture
If there's anything we've noticed among film photographers, it's the continuous passion to keep the medium alive and thriving. In this time when pixels rule over print, it has been a struggle for the film medium to keep up with newer technologies. When you finally find your kindred spirits in film photography, the more you'll feel that film is a live.
Our friend Niklas Porter recently moved to Stockholm and shared with us the joys of finally becoming a part of a physical photography club. His club arranges activities, workshops, and access to a well-equipped darkroom. Having finally experienced an analogue community outside of social media, he was able to learn more about different techniques, cameras, types of film, and more knowledge of film. He told us:
"...I am looking forward to spending more time in the darkroom and meeting new people with the same interests as me. The advantages of being a part of an analogue community I would say are knowledge, connections, inspiration, recourses, support and the opportunity to give back to others. The same really as any strong community. There are so many people out there that are so passionate about film photography and I believe the best way to keep film alive is to spread and share this passion to all who are interested."
Our own Lomographer Roxanna, a.k.a. roxannalog is a part of an analogue community based in San Diego, called Beers and Cameras. Though her club is two hours away from where she is, she made close friends there. They'd meet in various locations every other Thursday, and everyone would bring their favorite cameras as they talk about photography and film. They'll take photo walks or swap films, too. She told us that their meetings help them gain more information and learn new techniques. When Roxanna was planning to build her own darkroom, her fellow members guided her. It was through her experience as a member of an analogue community which inspired her to start her own one as well. Roxanne shared to us:
"I also am starting a film photography club at the school I work at. I am really hoping to inspire the younger generation to shoot film. Film communities are essential in helping the analog spirit alive! Film shooters are the most helpful close-knit people I've met. It's difficult to find information on film photography and having a community helps in keeping film alive. I love following their work, I find it very inspirational."
In and Out of Lomography; Finding the Right Community
So, it all boils down on where you can find the right kind of analogue community. The best way to find a physical group nearby is to ask your most frequented darkrooms or film labs. If you often hang out there, it's inevitable that you'll cross paths with passionate analogue photographers such as yourself. Our longtime friend, Davide a.k.a. sirio174 shared that he met most of the film users in a small photo shop in his town. However, he also mentioned it's still difficult for him to actually find an analogue community, even in the big Italian cities:
"Here in Como there is not a regular meeting or a group of film photographers; however I meet many film users in a small photo shop in the old town. Mainly there are teens who find a film camera in their home and want to test it. Few are regular film photographers. Surely a film community will help to keep the film alive, but to create a group you need people. It is very difficult in Como. Two weeks ago I was in Milan for a B/W film contest organized by a very important photo shop; there were 25 people participating. So, if is it so difficult in a great city, it is very hard in a 100.000 inhabitants town. Lomography is actually the best way to share the analogue love."
The Internet is very useful in looking for the right groups, especially those who are based in smaller towns. We suggest setting up your own online gallery – a simple Flickr or 500px account, a Tumblr blog, a Behance portfolio, a VSCO or Instagram profile will help others get to know your kind of beat better and faster. The online exposure will aid you greatly for chance encounters both with individual shooters and groups.
Better yet – if you're a film experimentalist, setting up a LomoHome would be the most suitable for you, as you would also meet your fellow experimentalists here. Film soups, redscale, and composing with multiple-exposures are favorite techniques here. Lomographers are always head over heels for the Diana F+ and the LomoChrome Purple. There's a longstanding culture of meeting up with fellow Lomographers among the Community. Long-distance friendships are quite normal in Lomography. When Lomographers get the chance, they cement their friendships through photo walks, collaborations, or film swaps. These are friendship goals for Lomographers!
The Lomography Community also strives to be the one-stop hub of both prevailing and untapped analogue knowledge. Roxanne also specifically mentioned the Lomography Community to be a helpful source of all things analogue, particularly its magazine section: "I can follow people who have such great vision and beautiful photography. The tutorials are wonderful as well. The articles are so inspiring."
The right analogue community varies from person to person, and we encourage introspection and reflection on what film photography and medium mean to you. Ask yourself, Why shoot film? What do I want to make out of my routine? There are no wrong answers, as this is more for your welfare as an artist. Let your passion and infinite rolls of film keep burning – get engaged with your analogue community.
written by cielsan on 2019-01-13