According to Wikipedia, Lomography defines a community of photographers who advocate creative and experimental film photography. The name is inspired by the former state-run optics manufacturer Lomo Plc of St Petersburg, that creator and producer of the 35 mm Lomo LC-A Compact Automat camera, now the centrepiece of the lomographic movement. This November the Lomographic Society International celebrated its twentieth anniversary. The LC-A+ camera was re-released as a special edition and the online magazine section ran articles about some of the best lomographic shots of the last twenty years.
Most lomographic cameras are designed to produce photographic effects such as over-saturated colors, extreme optical distortions, rainbow-coloured subjects, unusual exposure, blurring and alternative film processing, all things normally considered bad practice in photography. For example, the lomography fisheye camera I own features a built-in wide angle lens, and shoots fish-eye-distorted images.
The philosophy behind lomography is summarised in its motto ‘Don’t think, just shoot’. This motto is accompanied by ten golden rules which are supposed to encourage spontaneity, odd angles, and taking photos anywhere, while minimising considerations of formal technique. Typical lomography cameras are deliberately low-tech and simple to operate. Some cameras make use of multiple lenses and rainbow-coloured flashes, or exhibit extreme optical distortions and even light leaks.
I’ve found it difficult to get the hang of operating my lomo fish-eye camera, but I’m determined to persevere and make the most of its creative opportunities. I’m going to be more adventurous and make occasional use of it for giving a different slant to may wedding photography next year.
For this month I’ve chosen a picture I took of the post-wedding celebratrions outside the Assembly House in Norwich. On this occasion I had been passing by the Assembly House one Saturday afternoon in JUly after photographing the Norwich Pride parade through the town centre. I saw the people gathered around the front of the building and decided to just mill around with everyone else and take a few candid pictures. No-one seemed to mind. Maybe it’s just me, but I seem to be able to blend in with these kind of occasions.
The image shows the bride and groom in the foreground, out of focus and not the main point of interest, making the main points of interest the two women in the centre and the two men on the right. I felt this was an interesting composition and well suited to a straightforward black and white conversion. I took several other images focusing on the bride and groom so this was an interesting alternative point of view.
Canon EOS400D, 1/80 at f6.3, ISO 400
In June I was invited to photograph Tracy and Ian’s woodland wedding in the grounds of the Old Rectory near Norwich. This was really interesting fo me as I hadn’t experienced this type of wedding before, and realised that the weather would be critical. In the end, though we dodged the showers from time to time, the day was fairly warm and the whole day was a great success. Guests mingled in a woodland garden setting with a marquee, tests, yurts and a woodland walk in the grounds of an old rectory a few miles out of Norwich.
The whole event was quite informal, with few speeches, a really interesting handfasting ceremony, storytellers and acoustic musicians.
My approach is very much that of a documentary wedding photographer or photojournalist. I try to record the events, incidents and emotions of the day as they unfold. I did get free licence to roam around and take candid photographs, and in addition a number of posed portraits and group shots, and a few shots of the bride and groom in some of the more unusual settings around the grounds of the old rectory.
I’ve included a small selection of my favourites here.
This month’s image is one of my favourites from a family wedding in September 2009. The bride and groom have just stepped out of the church into the bright September sunshine and it’s confetti time. Luckily I was able to get right in there and capture the bride’s expression as confetti catches the sunlight and the church entrance in the background is thrown into deep shade. I did crop this one to cut out distracting detail around the sides of the frame and to emphasise the bride as the focal point of the composition. I’d like to think it successfully captures the feeling of the moment.
Canon EOS400D, 1/640 at f7.1, ISO400.
In Valencia, as I discovered last June, it’s very much the done thing for newly married couples to have a photoshoot walking around the city centre – and as it’s such a beautiful city I can understand why. Over the space of a couple of days I saw two couples wandering around with a photographer rushing ahead of them or posing them in front of a fountain to get the desired shot.
The image I’ve chosen has the couple centre frame, walking along one of the main shopping streets, with the bride looking in my direction, and both of them beaming, but I really picked this one because of the woman in front of them, totally unaware, and the man behind them glancing in their direction. I chose a black and white conversion as in colour the clothes of the two others distracted attention away from the bride and groom.
In November I took part in a two day workshop on wedding photography run by Steve Gerrard (www.stevegerrardphotography.com) at his studio in Birningham’s Custard Factory. So it was back to Birmingham again and a trip to the Digbeth area with its trendy galleries, railway arches, arty graffiti and £3 car washes. The scene of occasional trips to drink rough cider at a shilling a pint in my student days.
I joined eight others looking to break into wedding photography or gain some fresh insights to apply to their existing businesses, so between us we had a wide range of experience. True to his pre-course notes, Steve gave us a thorough grounding in how he goes about his art, what equipment he carries, some other photographers who inspire him, and much more besides, and above all he made it fun for all of us. Tthe sandwiches and cakes were pretty good too. As darkness fell at the end of the first day we went out into the surrounding streets or a session of painting with light.
On the second day we were joined by Steve’s friends Anna and Simon, (www.annaclarkephotography.com) who had agreed to pose as bride and groom so Steve could demonstrate his approach to a bride and groom shoot and give us the chance to take what shots we could ourselves (in my case, far too many). Much credit to Anna and Simon for braving the icy cold winds for more than two hours. We visited some half dozen locations close by the Custard Factory – plenty of gritty urban backdrops . Then back to the studio to get warm, have some lunch and look at a selection of Steve’s own images from the shoot and watch him demonstrate his post-production workflow. There was just time at the end for him to show us techniques for outdoor portraits using available light.
All in all, a most instructive couple of days in the company of a great bunch of people. Here are some of my favourite shots from the second day.- a laid back bride and groom with attitude.