Nowadays it’s common to not limit yourself to one creative endeavor. Being able to take ideas from different places and have varied creative outlets is a good way to decrease burnout and draw inspiration from numerous areas.
Kyoto-based Mark Lentz (@thehenrydemos) is a PR head for Chuhai Labs, part of indie lo-fi band Nice Legs and also an analogue photographer. He talked to us about how being a multi-hyphenate artist has allowed his different endeavors to blend together and how he stays creative.
Hi Mark, can you tell us how you started your film photography journey?
My pops had an old Pentax K1000 that he gave me back in 2000. It felt so empowering to hold that big chunk of cold steel. I felt like I was instantly going to be a talented photographer. Well, it turns out a lot of knobs and numbers really got in the way of making cool shit. I put the thought of photography away for a few years.
Fast forward to when my cousin let me borrow the Lomography Fisheye camera. It felt like a really nice tool that you would cherish forever. It had a bit of luxury to it. After getting the roll back and seeing all of these silly, drunk photos, a revelatory moment happened inside of me. Sure it can be beautiful or profound but at that moment I realized photography can be fun. I now shoot all the damn time. Every type of film and every type of camera doesn't matter as long as I can shoot it.
Yeah that really comes across from the albums on your LomoHome. There’s always a mixture of things! With that mixture in mind, how would you describe your style of photography and what kind of subjects do you like to take photos of?
I am jealous of any fool with a strong sense of style! I am too inspired by everyone's style to ever settle on one thing. That said, the thing that pulls me out of bed to take photos is absolutely 100% the crumbling world of the past. I don't mean to make that sound grim or morbid either! I am super lucky to live in Japan where the old boom era is still clinging on for dear life. There are old coffee shops, barbers, malls, offices, and markets that are all yanked out of the 1960s. They are beautiful. Soon they will be gone since Japan is changing so rapidly but for right now they are my biggest inspiration bar none.
What's it like being the Head of PR for a gaming company? At such a creative company there must be other photographers and creatives there as well.
I moved to Japan back in 2017. While on tour with my band Nice Legs in Japan, we met all of these really lovely video game developers at a game convention called Bitsummit. We hit it off really well. A few months later, I got an invitation to apply at Q-Games to be head of their PR and booyah here I am! Little did I know that a ton of my friends would be into photography and making dumb stuff!
Doing PR for game companies can be super rad. You are challenged with getting people hyped for something that is already fun as hell. Plus I am given a lot of leeway because I have a pretty bananas approach to PR. I like goofy stuff so you better believe we are gonna make some silly nonsense.
As you can imagine game companies are packed with creatives in every discipline. Since games require a particular look to stand out, the development teams are swimming with people into photography. I have been really fortunate to be surrounded by people much more talented than me (at everything!). Between that and living in always beautiful Kyoto, I have had a heck of a lot of inspiration to pull from!
Has working in a video game company helped your creativity with film photography?
Working in a video game company has definitely helped with my creativity! I feel so lucky to be able to travel to trade shows around the world showing games and you better believe I lug my cameras with me. It really makes my job fun to be able to whip out an old point & shoot and take photos of friends from around the world. It still surprises people when they hear the loud shutter. Man does it rule.
So as you work in gaming, I have to ask – what are your favorite games?
I will break this down into retro, indie, and photography! For retro, Mario Bros 2 is the landslide winner because that game is still wild as hell. It has the best music, the strangest gameplay, and an ending you can tell your mother about. The indie smash Spelunky is a game I have played every day for over ten years. You either don't get it or it is festering inside of you. The last one is my recent love affair: Cyberpunk 2077. I love that game. Plus you can whip out the camera mode to take nasty shots. They really go into detail with that camera work too. Lomography should do a collab with those homies.
You also make music. Can you describe your sound?
I make music like I take photos. Maximum lo-fi! My band is a three-piece called Nice Legs. I play the three-string frankenbass. Our singer Lew moved to Japan after I got a job in video games. We aren't in a relationship outside of the band so it was a pretty baller move of her to move to Japan with me. Anyway, it is some lo-fi dream pop but I like to think it is punk as hell.
Has being in a band affected or helped your creativity and photography in any way?
Man, I would say that being in a band inspires my photography all the damn time. Our singer Lew is such an animated performer and is wild. It makes every practice, smokey dive bar venue, or tour the perfect time to take photos. Honestly, just having friends that you can catch an intimate moment with is so damn inspiring and makes you feel really lucky. Oh and you get to be creative in a band together so that rules!
So what's currently in your camera arsenal? I saw you have an abundance of different cameras and Lomography products. Is there any specific one you gravitate towards?
Like a lot of people here, I have a bunch of cameras. My current family is the Zeiss Super Ikonta, Pentax 67, Nikon F3, and Yashicaflex. These are all tried and true. The thing is, I like the more bonkers boys a bit more including the FED 3, Olympus XA, and the Sprocket Rocket.
But the camera that is in my bag at all times 100% of the time is the Lomo'Instant Automat Glass. I bring that with me to take photos of friends. I love the shit out of that camera. It makes people's day when they get to keep the photo too.
Is there also a film stock you really love?
I love photo stocks homie. You know big ups to Lomo Color 400 and 800 too. I would say I shoot those the most. I really enjoy them. I joined the Lomography community here because I liked the film so much. The fact that Lomography has so many different types of film stocks at approachable prices means a goon like me can try a lot out. It is a great way to learn about film stocks. Hell yeah, Lomography!
Do you have a favorite photo you'd like to share?
I really enjoy this photo. It is pretty shitty, the scan sucked, and the colors are borked but I really like it. I think I fell truly in love with photography shooting this roll in general. I shot this roll on a day off after working for three weeks straight. I was exhausted as hell but I had this awesome day shooting just silly shots.
What advice would you give to others in the Lomography community?
The advice I would give anyone and everyone would be the same advice I see on every roll of 120 Lomography film: Don't think, just shoot. It is great advice. Not every shot will be good. Hell, most shots won't. Just shoot and have fun. And really, if it isn't fun, why the hell are you doing it?
Anyway thanks y'all for being the best! Thank you so much for letting me be part of Lomography extended family. I am forever grateful to everyone over there, and the whole community for keeping photography going. Shout out to all the fools and remember to keep a camera with you everywhere you go!