Tag Archives: Lomo

Cactus [In Bloom]

Unlikely subject matter for a photo taken in North Mississippi…

Snow Day + Lomo

Memphis Museums – [Stax]

Can we say “spontaneous visit to Stax”?

I hope so, because that’s what we’re here to talk about today.

Two weeks ago, I got a message from Meredith, which stated: “We are going to the Stax Museum. You want to go? Free ticket!!!”

Yes, obviously!

It seems that Meredith’s fella, Kevin, had bought some tickets to Stax at a discounted price and I was asked to come along.

In tow that afternoon were Meredith, Kevin, and Kevin’s friend Ryan. And me, of course.

What you folks have to understand is: I am a soul music fanatic. It’s what I grew up on [what with having a gospel singer as a mother and all.] Otis Redding is my #1 favorite singer, with Sam Cooke coming in a close #2. The fact that I live in a city with a soul music museum which I hadn’t visited up until this point is ridiculous. It’s even redonkulous, if that word happens to be in your vocabulary.

That’s me, soul fan extroidinare!

So, when we were watching the introductory film/documentary at the museum, it was really difficult for me to not be up and singing and dancing throughout its running time.

The first exhibit we saw upon entering the museum was a 100 year old church which had been transplanted into the museum.

I enjoyed that each member of our party walked around the museum at their own pace – exploring things which interested us. Maybe Kevin, for instance, wanted to dwell on the section devoted one artist, while Ryan browsed another artist’s section.

Meredith, reading information about the recording equipment used in making many famous Stax albums

I, for instance, paid the most attention to things which involved Otis Redding. I remember some years ago, being told by my friend Adam, after he’d visited Stax: “Your idol is EVERYWHERE there.” He meant Otis. See the above Otis Redding display? I got really “Aaaaaahhhhhh!” about it, because I definitely recognized that jacket from photos I’d seen of the late, great Mr. Redding. Just as my sister, as someone who studied English for her degree,  was struck by the fact that I got to see a part of the Rosetta Stone when I visited London, I was struck by seeing Otis Redding’s favorite jacket.

Kevin, looking at the Otis Redding memorabilia

Ya’ll know how I like to document things, right? Photographically, this museum visit reminded me of a photo series I did in 2003, called “Memphis Museums.” It was before I had a blog  – before I’d even heard of a blog. I went to some museums with friends, took photos while we were there of both the exhibits and my friends, and posted the photos to the old version of the Shoot With Personality site.

Our visit to Stax reminded me very much of my old “Memphis Museums” series. Since it was so spur of the moment, I could only use the photo equipment I had on my person {or in my purse, as it happened} that day: my old Lomo LC-A and a couple of rolls of color-process black and white film. Which is much the way I would have been shooting the “Memphis Museums” in 2003.

Kevin, admiring artwork from some of the albums released by Stax

Meredith, and the interactive Stax music player, just before we slow-danced to the music in the headphones.

wonder if they’d stop us if you jumped up on these so I could take your picture sitting on them?”

Issac Hayes’ Cadillac – it is displayed on a rotating floor, with audio of Hayes saying things like “Don’t touch my ride!” playing.

Meredith, in the little photo gallery at Stax

In conclusion, I had a wonderful time at Stax with friends, and loved doing some photography that reminded me of the olden days of Shoot With Personality. And being inspired to perhaps begin a new “Memphis Museums” series…

Helllllllllo Lomo!

Ahhhhhh. The much beloved, and the much maligned, Lomo LC-A.

Oh you, Lomo Kompakt Automat.

A Little History About Me and Lomo

Let me give you a little Shoot With Personality history. Before there WAS a Shoot With Personality (well, that is to say, I am Shoot with Personality – but before I had a site called that…) I, as a developing photographer, owned a Lomo LC-A. Or two? Yeah, I guess I broke my first one, and it had some issues anywayz…I got the first one in early 2002? Judging from the photos of my now 8 year old niece sitting in her high chair that were on the first roll, 2002 seems about right. It was awhiiiile ago, but I believe I got mine from a seller in the Ukraine, from ebay. I wouldn’t have paid more than $75 for it, which is about what I paid for the second model I got the next year, also from a Ukrainian ebay listing. The best part of buying packages from the former USSR, btw, is the packaging. You wait a month for it to arrive, then when it does, it’s wrapped in brown paper and tied up with what I assume is string made from yak fur. SO old-world! SO charming!

I don’t even show pictures from those early days around too much, because they were very much a time of “development.” But I recently showed them to a photographer friend, and he saw some merit in my development period… If you care to see some of those older photos – really, some as old as 2001 and 2002- you can see them in my good ole Lomohome on the good ole Lomographic Society site (that “society”, as many things I mention in this blog, is another discussion for another day.)

What’s a Lomo?

I used to have a little description of the LC-A on the Lomo section of the OLD version of the Shoot With Personality site. It said:

What’s a lomo?

When most people talk about a “Lomo”, they are referring to the Lomo LC-A. The Lomo Compact Automat is a relatively small, Russian-made camera. Most people who use an LC-A do so because of the camera’s light-gathering abilities, which make it particularly suited to low-light situation”

I guess that’s a pretty good way to put it. It’s a smallish camera. It’s got zone focusing – meaning you don’t foc us the lens by looking through it or anything, you focus it by estimating the distance from the camera to what you’re photographing, and adjusting the little focusing lever on the side. Yeah, it’s in meters. We imperial system folks have to get used to making the conversions in our mind – thankfully, there are only those few distance settings to choose from, one of which involves ∞ symbol. You don’t need to know how meters and feet translate when the setting is “infinity.” You just slide it to that setting when you could describe what you’re photographing as “FAR AWAY!”

The actual “big deal” about this “little camera” (aren’t I funny?) is the lens – It has some specific characteristics that drew a lot of photographers (and non-photographers alike. Heh.) Vignetting. Distortion at the edges. Vivid colors. Add those to the aforementioned “blurry on purpose” – many of us pridefully argued with photo lab technicians, or looked down our noses at the lab workers for not being evolved as we  were, because they would either not print some of the negatives on our film because they thought the photos were mistakes, or they’d print them and very gravely tell us that something was wrong with our cameras. Ha!

I actually have made a lot of friends across the world, due to owning the LC-A. At the time when I first acquired the LC-A, I frequented a couple of Lomo users sites. And, honestly, I’m sure some of those friends were there as Lomographic Society detractors. I know at least one was…But I did photographic print swaps with Lomo users, and a couple of “double exposure” projects with a guy in Serbia – where he put a roll through his camera, sent it to me, and I put the same roll through my Lomo. And vice versa. It was a spicy little photo community with which to be involved, before the days of Flickr.

The Exit of Lomo from My Life. And the Re-entry…

But, I picked up more photographic skills as time went by. I found other types of camera better suited to my photographic needs. I picked up better pocket-sized, partially automated cameras (Dear Olympus XA: You will have your time in the blogsphere spotlight soon enough. I promise! Love, Amanda) The LC-A was something I felt as if I’d outgrown.

So I grew tired of my LC-A and, more specifically, the “Lomographic movement” a few years back and decided to put it out to pasture. Literally. My friend Kent was going back to Illinois and on tour with a band, so I thought he should have it. Never looked back. Not really. Not until maybe this summer. I wrote Kent and asked if I could borrow the camera back.  I was halfway expecting the camera to not exist any more – after all, it was a ’91 model, I had dropped it so much that part of the plastic of the top plate was long gone, and three years is an awfully long time.

Hi Kent! Taken in 2006, about a month or so before Kent bid Memphis adieu, with the very Lomo LC-A in question.

But, low and behold, the camera still exists! Kent is a gem of a fellow and a real champ, so he of course said I could borrow the camera back. What is more, I have now put a roll of film through it, and the camera WORKS! OH HAPPY DAY! I was reunited with this old friend on a week and a half before Christmas. PERFECT timing for taking photos with a camera that yields such characteristically rich colors and Christmas IS quite a colorful time of year. So guesssss what I did?

You guessed it! You know me too well! I took a lot of pictures of shopwindows decorated for Christmas! And I picked things that I thought looked nice and stereotypically Lomo: a vintage store near my home. Funky, ain’t it?

And more results from this first roll through the LC-A:

So What’s The Conclusion on Lomo?

Ya know what? I’m liking having this camera back in my life. Sure, I have plenty of other cameras, even other pocketable ones. Ones that have nicer lenses and ones that you can actually focus rather than just guessing. But, goshdarnit, I like this LC-A. And, ya know what else? I’m a better photographer than I was when I was initially using the LC-A.  My first couple of years doing photography, I was just going through a process of trial and error, just learning how to be a photographer and developing my photographic style in general. I want my photos to stand on their own, not on the merit of things like vignetting and flashy colors. But, when I look into my purse and see that LC-A, that I used to carry with me everywhere, it’s comforting to look upon. It feels familiar in my hands. And those images it produces make me want to say “Ah, hello, my Russian comrade. I remember you well.”

(I SO wish I could do a Russian accent just about now…)