Mingyang Ko on Sharing His "Slow Living" Philosophy with the LomoGraflok 4×5 Instant Back

Photographer Mingyang Ko was born in 1977 and has been in photography since 1993. Now living in Taipei, he manages the art space - 198 ギャラリー CAFE and is the designer behind the new lightweight large-format 4×5 camera "Lil Elephant Basic 45".The 198 ギャラリー CAFE gallery serves as a safe space for all the things Ko loves: "I gather some of my favorite things - art, photography, coffee, books, in this small place to share with you." In addition to shooting his own works, Ko also holds workshops about photography.

Let's take a look into his personal journey alongside photography in this feature written by Ko himself, as well as his fresh encounter with the LomoGraflok 4×5 Instant Back.

Mingyang Ko, photographed by Pei-chi Tseng

Beginning the Photography Journey from High School

Around 1993, my second year of high school, I started to get in touch with some basic knowledge about large-format cameras. After graduation, I also encountered them in commercial photography studios. However, not until 2014, that I actually tried shooting with a large-format camera. I bought my very first 4×5 camera at a photographic equipment store in Tokyo. I still remember that because it was too big to be consigned by plane, I had to carry it to the local post office for mailing and it turned out that the postage was more expensive than the camera itself…

"Large-format photography is basically like doing marble carving. All aspects of rigor and technical requirements must be upgraded to a certain level. Of course, if the results of the shooting are satisfactory, that inner joy is absolutely unspeakable."
© Mingyang Ko | Taipei, 2016 (180cm x 150cm, Inkjet Printed, Cotton Rag Baryta Paper)

The Rigor and Technique for Large-Format and the Joy It Brings

For me, the differences and benefits between large-format cameras and 35 mm or medium-format cameras can’t be said in a few words. Generally speaking, when you first get in touch with them, you will find that shooting with large-format cameras requires more procedures and If any of the steps are neglected or not done properly, it will waste a lot of films, time, and energy. A 35 mm camera is like a pencil, which is very suitable for quick sketches as it is important to be fast and casual. Shooting with medium format is more like working on an oil painting, it requires a little more effort, while large format photography is basically like doing marble carving. All aspects of rigor and technical requirements must be improved to a certain level. Of course, if the results of the shooting are satisfactory, then the joy it brings will be absolutely indescribable.

From Shooting 50 Rolls of Film a Week to Slowing Down with Large-Format Cameras

Large-format photography is like a violin, requires time and constant practicing. The "slowness" is a very important element in my opinion in this era of large format photography. The unobstructed use of smartphones has made everyone shoot very fast. I used to shoot very fast as well, from 2003 to 2014, I often made records on the streets of Ximending, Taipei. I shot 50 rolls of negatives a week. It was normal to me back then, but now I hope that the depth in my photos is not just a random shot in front of me, but a product of more observation, analysis, thinking and even synthesis in my own brain.

© Mingyang Ko | from left Bao'an Station, 2017 | Hengchuen, 2016 | Cheng-En Gate, 2016 | Model House, No.8, 2016
(120 cm x 150 cm, Inkjet Printed, Cotton Rag Baryta Paper)

Creating the "Lil Elephant Basic 45, a Lightweight Large-Format 4×5 Camera

I have shot with a lot of great 4×5 cameras, they all have one thing in common, which is their "heaviness" - the camera body itself is heavy, so the tripod has to be heavy enough to support it, together with the lens and other accessories for shooting, I have to carry big luggage every time when I go out for taking pictures. Therefore, I was hoping to make a camera that is light in weight, easy to carry, and has the proper shifting function. After more than two years of research and development, it finally came to life! This 4×5 camera weighs only 980 grams and is only the size of an A4 paper when it's folded, with a 10 cm thickness. I call it a "Lil Elephant" because it looks like a baby elephant in an elephant herd when compared with other 4×5 cameras.

  • Ko's Negative Reality Series

The ways of viewing this series is rather special. You can enjoy the negative film directly, or use the "Reverse Color" -> "Classic Reverse" function in the iPhone to see the films in normal color.

© Mingyang Ko | from left Girl in front of the Window, 2015 | Gathering of Auspicious Signs, After Giuseppe Castiglione, 2019 | Negative Reality #1, 2018
(180 cm x 150 cm, Inkjet Printed, Cotton Rag Baryta Paper)

First Impressions with the LomoGraflok Instant Back

This is a great instant back. It can be used very smoothly on my 4×5 Lil Elephant Camera. I think Lomography has been working a lot on instant cameras in the past few years, so I feel the design and production quality of the instant back is trustworthy and solves the problems of many 4×5 camera users who wish to use instant cameras in recent years without corresponding films or camera backs.

© Mingyang Ko

Instant Films for Trial and Error in Photography

Overall, I recommend this camera back. I have used it on Linhof, Sinar, and other 4×5 cameras during the test. Since the 4×5 camera I made is only 980 grams, with this camera back, it is very suitable for shooting outdoor or when traveling, it saves a lot of 4×5 film holders. I just need to bring enough film, like the high sensitive Fuji Instax Wide film, which can be used under various lighting conditions, plus I can see the results immediately, without worrying that the photos might go wrong and to only discovered it after developing the film.

© Mingyang Ko

Ko's Analogue Future Forward

I think this camera back realizes the possibility for me to shoot family portraits with 4×5 cameras. The high ISO and the black and white and color options of the film are very helpful for indoor low-light shooting. Some on-going projects I have to keep secret but I can say that shooting more works with this camera back is already on my list.

© Mingyang Ko

Thank you Mr. Ko for sharing. Modern and convenient technology has made us accustomed to "fast", and I believe that everyone who loves film photography just enjoys slowing down between the viewing windows and savoring the feeling of each moment. Please check out art space - 198 ギャラリー CAFE’s Facebook page for their latest news and Ko’s Facebook page for his works!

Pre-order the LomoGraflok 4×5 Instant Back now to get a 10% off early bird discount!

written by joycelau21 on 2021-01-12 #gear #culture #people

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