Scott Crary is a New York-based film director, producer, and writer, best known for his art punk documentary Kill Your Idols. Little did we know, when he came into our Lomography NYC studio, that he is also a talented and passionate Lomographer. He has been shooting and loving the LC-A+ for over two decades and told us about an idea for a photo project he wanted to shoot exclusively for us—although the word project does not do justice to what Scott and his wife Paola were up to.
Over the past couple of months, the two of them created a visual love-letter to the medium of analog photography, the core aspects of what love is about and most importantly to each other.
Scott, we are so thrilled you reached out to us about this project. We immediately fell in love with the idea of it and are even more fascinated by the results. Please fill our readers in on the photo project you had in mind and how you came up with it.
The idea of the project was to have my camera with me whenever my wife was not, treating it as a sort of vicarious gaze. It was a way to have her always with me, by using the camera to see through her eyes and to let her see through mine. Love is at essence ritual of tandem fate, of harmonized experience. It’s a holy thing, that merging of consciousness. Our minds become authored by so many of the same events, colored by so much mutual memory. And that revelation of love, of a marriage being a sensory unifying is really what provoked the project. It became a way to prevent any potential gaps, to allow each other to see whatever of the world being apart might blind us to. To go out into the world and harvest its dream on her behalf, to prove its beauties... bringing my beloved all the flowers I’d picked on my way back to her.
I shot over the past few months, primarily around New York City. My gear: Lomo LC-A+, Splitzer, Colorsplash Flash, Lomography Color Negative 400 and 800, and a worthy tracklist as well as good headphones. I like to wander around with the camera while listening to music. It makes the images come more intuitively, to soundtrack sensation.
These were three songs pretty steadily on rotation throughout Bonnie Prince Billy "Wild Is The Will”, Low “Quorum”, Vivaldi “Nisi Dominus - Cum Dederit”.
For what reasons do you prefer to shoot film in our digital age?
Film is alive in a way digital images can’t be. Particularly shooting with the LC-A+, it’s more about creating some artifact of experience rather than controlling some definitive and absolute image. It is about preserving the wild, the organic, the spontaneous...not taming it. Analogue photography is about living. You spend more time with the moment than the technology. Digital can be so clinical and sterile and self-homogenizing. But analogue –– and Lomography in particular –– is all about chance, the unexpected, being surprised. It demands a certain degree of surrender. The very same could be said of love. Love is never more than a faith, and that’s why it’s so exciting. There’s that same sense of suspense in shooting film... of not knowing precisely what you’ll get but trying for it anyway. Which is what makes analogue photography so much more romantic than digital. I could never have shot the project I did on digital. I needed each image to feel like an artifact of some evaporating dream, half-remembered. I needed each to feel like it was floating from my mind to hers.
How did you get into photography in the first place and how long have you been shooting with the LC-A+?
I’ve been shooting with the LC-A since the last century—way back in 1995. Back when they were heftier and had that military stink to them. I don’t think I even knew what photography was then, definitely not in any artistic sense. It wasn’t until I started making films that I really started using it with any sort of aesthetic discipline. Then it became a way to try out shot ideas, the photos I took serving as sort of stills from unmade films.
Which one is your personal favorite photo of this series and why?
This one. If ever I needed proof I’m living in the gods’ favor, that face is it.
Knowing that you were shooting these photos for your wife instead of only for yourself, did that influence the decision of what to photograph?
A photograph is an act of gratitude. So too is every gesture of love. Each is just a way of saying thank you, be it for the moment in front of us we feel compelled to catch some echo of by taking a picture of it, or be it for the person in front of us who’s convinced us to an awe so overwhelming that it makes us want to stand in their life with them forever. The project was really about combining both.
I suppose each ‘thank you’ exaggerated the other, and I did seek out moments that particularly conveyed that.
Ironically, the photos that most convey that are the ones taken when we weren’t even far from one another. The concept of the project morphed a bit midway through when I realized how rarely my wife and I are actually apart. So apart came to mean both 2500 miles apart or 25 inches apart. In either case, it was the same strategy: I sought out the most mystical event nearest me to aim my camera at. When we were in the same room together, that very often meant her face. Which is what explains why there are so many photos of her.
What advice do you have for other Lomographers?
To quote L. Cohen, “Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.” That holds true for any of the arts. To take extravagant photos, live extravagantly. Let your photography be a catalyst for experience, for a more vibrant living, more alive living. Let your camera bait you deeper into the world.
Also: Patience is the only honest muse. In writing, in painting, and especially in photography. Don’t hunt for what to photograph. Let images find you. You wander your desert until worthy mirage appears. Wait until that worthy shot comes. And then try to capture it.
What other projects are you working on now?
A 15th Anniversary Expanded Edition of my first film, Kill Your Idols, will be released later this year on 2xDVD.
Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution was just released on DVD this month; I produced that one and it stars folks like John Waters, Kathleen Hanna, Bruce LaBruce, Peaches, and Genesis P-Orridge. A film I produced on the free jazz movement, Fire Music, premiered at the New York Film Festival in October and is playing fests now. El Gran Fellove, a documentary directed by Matt Dillon that I did some work on, is nearing completion. And we just announced a new documentary on Jeffrey Lee Pierce and his band, The Gun Club. That film is called Elvis From Hell and is slated to feature interviews with Nick Cave, Jack White, Moby, Kid Congo Powers, Debbie Harry, Iggy Pop, and others. (It’s going to be a busy year!)