Being one of the largest analogue photography communities on the web, we are proud of the creativity and diversity of our members. For this month's Community Spotlight, we are pleased to introduce to you Lomographers Benjamin Franke and Maria Georgiadou their unique way of seeing the world.
Name: Benjamin Sumner Franke
Location: Pasadena, CA
Hi, Benjamin! What do you do and what got you started with photography?
It's hard to pin exactly what I do, although it's all creative. I'm somewhat of a creative polymath and I enjoy exploring many forms of art. In the last decade, I studied and graduated with a BS in Entertainment Design from Art Center College of Design, emphasizing in Illustration. During a break in education, I worked with @three60s on the design aspect of high-end music festivals which led me to start a psychedelic exploration of my own art. This eventually became somewhat of a personal brand @solsticesondesign enjoyed by the festival community. In between working on my art and painting at music festivals, I worked creatively on music videos, branding, short films, conventions, and a big top circus.
During my studies, I created a blog/mood board that influenced my ideas and aesthetic throughout my design process. For the most part, it consisted of beautiful landscapes, textures, and tasteful nudity. Having lost most of the blog when Tumblr banned nudity, I no longer use it. Nonetheless, the influence that collection had on me shows up in my work up to this day. While it was still active, I was inspired to begin creating my own content for the blog — shooting a mix of landscapes and boudoir. But I didn't know much about photography and didn't know how to get started, much less work with models.
How did you discover Lomography and what made you join our analogue Community? Who are your favorite photographers here?
During my last few terms of school, I made friends with many photography students. Since then, as they've climbed in the industry, I've ended up assisting regularly. Recently @keithoshiro and I built a studio in my backyard where we host photoshoots. Between assisting and hosting, meeting so many professional photographers, my life has transitioned greatly towards photography. But for some reason, I didn't pick up a camera with intention until the summer of 2018.
In May 2018, I bought a Sony A7rII and a ticket to Iceland where my grandmother was born and still lives. I spent a month traveling the island and shooting with six models in the alien landscapes. It was my first solo trip to a far off land, quite an adventure. I was instantly hooked on travel and exploring the unique experiences of working with art models in the strangest places on Earth. I took so many photos during that month that I still haven't finished editing my favorite shots.
When I returned, my housemates encouraged me to explore film and I began shooting with some old camera bodies my dad owned when he was my age. My interest in film led me to re-purchasing a quirky old Nickelodeon point-and-shoot that I owned in 1998 but never shot a roll in. I loved the weirdness of it and began exploring other bizarre cameras through the Lomography site. Eventually, I found a box of nearly a dozen Lomo cameras on eBay for $100. I also discovered the community and began posting whatever I ran through the cams. I haven't been able to test all of them yet but I'm having a blast so far!
In my exploration of the community, I've discovered a couple of favorite photographers on Lomography. I love Simone Zanoli's Instantnomad project. I absolutely love the landscapes of Justino Blake. I'm inspired by the low-light work of Bryan Reisberg. Intrigued by the glittery magic of Riddle Viernes. And I adore the work of Mike Walrond. Of course, there are so many undiscovered artists on this platform, I'm in awe of most work I see. The community provides a space to get a bit closer to these artists, to seek inspiration and learn from them.
What is your favorite subject to photograph? What do you usually look for in a scene before you hit the shutter?
My favorite subject to photograph is the fine nude, especially when juxtaposed or mimicking the shapes and textures of nature. There is an unrivaled subtlety to the feminine form that I'm drawn to after years of figure study. Flowing curves and delicate angles that seem to whisper the silent names of the elements. The same subtleties are found in the intricate forms of nature, and likewise, in the dissonance of jagged and complex textures. When juxtaposed, these harmonies and contrasts celebrate the human form.
Flowing fibers of driftwood, the same shapes hidden in the flow of a breeze through her hair. A cracked lakebed, the same marks speckle her thighs. Stone carved by water and wind, the same curves of her hips, her collar bone, her spine. She is nature in motion, alive and expressive. Within the movements of the muse, a dance of mind and body, a glimpse of the soul. This is what I seek before I hit the shutter.
I'm also fascinated by certain aspects in play during a shoot. In such a vulnerable state, there is a deep trust shared between the collaborators. There is an appreciation and gratitude being both given and received. I've witnessed an unfurling of sorts. A relaxation of self-judgment, a return to something natural, often accompanied by smiles and laughter. During most shoots, both the model and I have entered something like a trance, working silently in a creative flow. There is a sense of reciprocity, between nature, myself, and the model(s) that I see in a spiritual way. It's something I value far more than processing or editing and sometimes I wish I could forego that side of the work. I got into photography to escape the desk, not to be further bound to it.
In this day and age, why choose film?
I've only picked up film recently and the limited work you can find in my Lomo gallery is essential all the analogue work I've shot so far. I've been gravitating towards film for many reasons. When I looked through my Olympus for the first time after shooting with the A7rII for many months, I was struck by the realization that you never see honest light through a mirrorless viewfinder. For some reason I hadn't ever considered it before. The light that comes into a DSLR is interpreted by a chip and pumped back out by diodes on a screen. Maybe I'm wildly off here but it seems digital photography in its final form is an interpretation of light, whereas analogue film is a direct interaction with light. There are no complications, no algorithms, no code, just honest light. Somehow, there seems to be a very real piece of time itself captured on a film strip.
Don't get me wrong, I love digital photography. But analogue... oh that magic emulsion. That beautiful grain! There's a beauty to the mystery of it. Every developed roll is like Christmas, especially after traveling for days and forgetting most of the little captured moments. I've enjoyed shooting expired rolls through the quirky Lomo cams I've collected. I love that it's only predictable to a degree, there are so many subtleties that appear and often enrich the final image.
What does a perfect day look like for you?
Perfect days for me are filled with a range of creative experiences. I've found perfect days to be a blend of travel and creativity. Paired with exploring a new land or culture, I am able to enjoy a dynamic journey while still creating art. Much like the festival experience, traveling offers an aspect of flow that, when embraced, can unravel into a series of synchronistic moments. Its a sweet spot of letting go and enjoying the ride, being open to opportunities, overcoming challenges, connecting with new souls, learning and growing. Most of all, creating together.
Name: Maria Georgiadou
Location: Limassol, Cyprus and Athens, Greece
Hi, Maria! What do you do and what got you started with photography?
Hello, really happy with this feature! I am Maria and I come from Athens, Greece, currently living in Limassol, Cyprus. I work at a theatre (box office, administration assistant) and I got into photography officially when I took my first photography class back in 2007. Until that, I was always shooting snapshots from my holidays but didn't have the courage to start with photography seriously (and those were film-only-days, digital was not around then). I come from a family with many aspiring photographers, so my childhood years were full of slide shows from my aunt's and uncles' shots! At some point in my life, a very difficult time (my father died), I desperately needed to express myself in a creative way so I decided to start photography lessons and I got my first digital compact camera. It was a revelation of the senses, I became very passionate and continued with photography studies further. It is one of my best life choices!
How did you discover Lomography and what made you join our analogue Community? Who are your favorite photographers here?
I found out about Lomography from my first photography instructor, Yiannis Voulgarakis, he still is very passionate about Lomo and he teaches film photography at Mikro Polytechnio in Athens! I absolutely loved the colors, the vintage feel, the perfect imperfections, the vignettes, the surreal world of multiple exposures, the dreamy feel of plastic lenses, and the square frames! I was instantly hooked and went to the Lomography Greece store and got my first three Lomography cameras — a Holga, a Sprocket Rocket and a Fisheye One. Needless to say, I have many more by now! My favorite Lomographers include @Klawe, @guja, @pearlgirl77, @troch, @lorrainehealy, @hodachrome, @bravopires , @sierravictor, @oleman, @vicuna, and many many more. I'm really sorry I can't include them all!
What makes you stay with film photography in this day and age? What's your favorite subject to shoot?
Film is natural and organic, the colors are way better than anything digital. When I shoot digital, I always use film-like filters so what's the point? I love the imperfections, the light leaks, the unpredictability of film. I also love the way film makes you slow down your inside process and think more about the composition and the light, because, let's face it, you can't afford to go completely wrong since you only have a limited number of shots. And I love to wait for the results! It gives me such a warm feeling inside when I know there are films waiting to be developed! My favorite subjects include land and seascapes, cityscapes, details, and animals. I am fascinated by abandonment — cars, buildings, etc. I love portraits as well but I rarely shoot them and this is my photography goal for the next months: more portraits! Ultimately, I just love shooting whatever "clicks" inside of me!
For you, what's the best part about being a Lomographer?
This feeling of belonging to this very loving community is the best! I've met many Lomographers and we all share a kind of passion and friendliness that is very rare nowadays. We all love what we do and this is great! Plus, Lomographers are not afraid to share and give! I have two cameras that other Lomographers from all over the world have given to me, just like that, simply because they could do it and they loved to do it!
What is your favorite Lomography camera and film and why?
I love the LC-A 120, although I have some problems with mine, I can't help it, I'm in love! I just love the lens and vignettes and the colors it produces. Lomo'Instant Wide is great too. I wish it was more portable and small but I love the results and the ease of use! And of course, my all-time favorite, the Holga! simply because I LOVE plastic lenses and the dreamy feel you get from them! Runner-ups are the Diana Instant, Diana Mini and Diana F+! My favorite films are the Lomography Color Negatives (especially the 100 iso version - such soft colors!) and the Lomochrome Purple. What a dreamy film! I also love Redscale since I think it's a unique film! I don't use black-and-white that much but Earl Grey is quite nice too!
Stay tuned for our monthly Community Spotlight to discover the work of some of the most talented Lomographers!