How well do you know the city you live in? At the start of this year, we listed being a tourist in your own city as one of many ways to fire up or rekindle your excitement for photography. Art has the capacity to amplify the way we experience life, and with film photography it's no different. A simple solitary photowalk could lead to new acquaintances, a new favorite meal from a previously undiscovered restaurant, or a new favorite spot in town.
In this interview, we talked to 22-year-old Taiwanese film enthusiast Lee Chun-Tin, a.k.a Leon (@trickstergaumer) about his relationship with his hometown which he explores through his keen interest in film photography.
Hello! Can you tell us about yourself?
My name is Lee Chun-Tin, I will be 22 years old this year. You can call me by my English name, Leon. I’m now an undergraduate student majoring in Physics. I started learning photography out of interest.
How and when did you start shooting film?
In August 2020, my dad gave me a film camera he used before, and also I happened to find a store running a film business in the city I lived in, so I took the first roll of film. The outcome impressed me a lot!
I love the color and the texture of grains very much. Moreover, the limit of photos adds some sense of ritual to every shot, I really enjoy it!
What do you like the most about photographing Taiwan's streets? Do you have a favorite place and can you tell us about it?
There are many alleys on the streets of Taiwan, old buildings and old communities are hidden in them. When I get into the alleys and see them, it’s like walking through a time tunnel. Those places are very poetic and far away from the hustle and bustle.
My favorite place is a military dependent village named “General-Village” in Hsinchu city, built in the 1960s. This community is built for military officers retired from Kinmen county. After several urban renewals, it’s cut off from the main road by the new buildings, making this place like a different world. It feels like time somehow froze in the 1960s here.
What are people's usual reactions when they find out that you shoot film?
Most middle-aged Taiwanese don't like being photographed by strangers, but when they find out I use films, their attitude usually softens. I guess maybe seeing a young one shooting film brings back great memories in their youth!
Once, I took pictures in a small restaurant, and the owner happened to be a photographer years ago. He shared lots of experience and interesting things about film photography with me, and showed me his camera collections. It was a really great moment.
What is it like growing up in your hometown? Is there a film community that you hang out with?
Like most Asian youths, I spend most of my time on studies. For Taiwanese of my generation, photography is a way to relieve stress and express romantic feelings.
I walked through so many streets and alleys, and learned more about the humanities and historical context of the place I live in, which usually won’t be taught in schools.
There’s a Facebook group called “底片小宇宙”, film lovers in Taiwan share their works and help novices deal with their troubles there. But street photography isn’t mainstream in it, so I surf the website of Lomography Taiwan more often.
What do you want to tell people through your photos?
Smartphones make taking pictures much more convenient than before, which also makes my peers cherish images less. When photography is added with a sense of ritual, we will naturally try to find the views we would like to preserve; by doing so, we will find surprises in the environment we are too accustomed to.
The point is not creating popular or profound works, but taking photos you’re willing to look at again and again, even frame it and hang it on the wall.
Do you have some goals around film photography that you'd like to achieve?
My grandpa gave me a Nikon FE, which was his favorite camera bought 40 years ago. I want to continue shooting films until this camera is 100 years old, and then pass it on to my grandson maybe.
We hope this interview motivates you to go out and capture your surroundings in a new light! To keep in touch, visit Leon's LomoHome.