Photographer Anil Mistry has been running his Unusual Eye Photowalks around Brighton and recently collaborated with Lomography for a special Berlin Kino Photowalk. He talked to us about shooting with the LC-A 120 and the reasons he chooses to shoot with film.
Hi Anil, tell us a bit about yourself?
Hello Lomography! I’m Anil Mistry. I’ve been working as a creative director for over 15 years. I’m a serial creative, and I’ve worked in many areas- TV, film, fashion, comedy, art, design, advertising- and more recently- photography. Over the past 4-5 years, I’ve really taken to film and digital photography, and enjoy the escapism it provides. I shoot all sorts of stuff – both with digital and my collection of film cameras- but am a particular fan of street portraits and documentary style photography. I’ve taken on commissions in the UK, India and Hong Kong, and I’m hoping to make photography a bigger part of my creative output in the future. I like to write and talk about photography too- I’ve written pieces for 35mmc, emulsive.org, and Ilford film– I’ve guested on The Sunny 16 Podcast, The Classic Lenses podcast and the Negative Positives podcast where I’ve shared tips and thoughts on various aspects of film photography. Most weekends You’ll find me wandering the streets of Brighton with a bunch of cameras, capturing portraits and enjoying the odd whiskey…
You've been shooting with the LC-A 120, how have you been getting on?
I’ve really enjoyed the simplicity of use- medium format photography can get heavy and fiddly and I’ve owned other systems: The Mamiya 645 Pro TL, the Fuji GA645i and the Yashica 635. The LC-A 120 is by far the easiest, most compact and most “instant” 120 camera I’ve used, and I love the square format of the shots. My Yashica TLR shoots 6x6 but it’s just too slow for my style of photography so a 6x6 point and shoot like the LC-A 120 really suits me. I sort of see it as a medium format Olympus Xa2 – a camera that makes snapping fun and un-fiddly. As this is a Lomo camera, it’s all about having a more relaxed and fun approach, and the stripped-down controls make you less precious with shooting.
If you want constant precision and control this is not the camera for you. The shots are always interesting, and I really like the punchy results with black and white film and the natural vignetting that the lens provides. It’s surprisingly sharp too. It’s relatively easy to use (compared to the other 120 cameras I’ve owned) but my main niggle would be the loading of film- pushing down the spring-loaded spindle to mount the film roll can get fiddly, so I now keep a scalpel blade with me when I take it out so that I can use it to help me hold the spindle down as I slot the film roll in. It’s a process that takes me a few minutes. Having received my first rolls back from the lab, I was really impressed with the wider framed shots- being medium format, they blow up beautifully, and I think that going forward I would explore landscape style shots more with this camera.
What is the appeal of film photography for you?
The appeal for me is the unique look of the shots. It’s hard to put a finger on film photography “looks” as they vary so much but I also shoot with a pro-full-frame digital camera, and the shots usually come out a little too clinical, compared to film which is always pleasingly organic.
Beyond the look, I enjoy the whole tactile journey that film provides- and the fact that it forces you to slow down more and think. I also just love film cameras. Beautiful pieces or mechanical engineering. Just lovely to hold and play with. I could easily spend every penny on cameras given the chance. And lenses. Don’t get me started on lenses…
You have been running some Photowalks in Brighton, most recently with the Berlin Kino B&W film, do you think there is a strong community of passionate film shooters?
I’m always amazed by the enthusiasm of the film photography community. I’ve run 2 walks in collaboration with Lomography so far, and people from all over the country have come along to join in. I’ve met so many interesting people of all ages with serious knowledge and enthusiasm and made great friends. Everybody is supportive and there’s some serious geekery out there (in a good way) and so much expert knowledge and tips to pick up. The social aspect is just fantastic and I’m hoping to do as many more as I can fit in, and I’m hoping to get even younger shooters to come along. Once you go on a Photowalk, you’re hooked for life so I recommend anyone reading this to try it out- it’s life-changing. And there are pub stops of course.
What's coming up next?
I always have too many things on the go, so time is the constant enemy. You can see what I get up to at anilmistryphoto.com I am currently looking into creating more photo books under my “Unusual Eye” book label, which I developed to publish limited edition photo books at pocket money prices. As well as that I will be organizing more Photowalks so stay tuned by following me on instagram @anilmistryphoto - I’d love to meet you!