You might be familiar with Michel Leung Kut, a French photographer who got the opportunity to test our new films Fantôme Kino B&W prior to its release with a series of dreamlike photos in the streets of Paris. He now reveals new photos taken with the Diana Instant Square camera, and discusses his first impressions.
Hi Michel, could you introduce yourself to our readers?
Of course. My name is Michel Leung Kut, I am 40 and I live in the Paris region. I first took an interest in photography when my father bought me a 110 camera in the '80s. I remember that I first took a photo of an autonomous car with its own solar panel on the Trocadéro. I then borrowed my sister's Konica EFP2 to carry during travels. Later on, it's with my father's Pentax Spotmatic that I started street photography, which is what I still focus on nowadays. I'd say that I've been practicing street photography quite seriously for the past 5 years, and I am published in fanzines once in a while. I really wish for photography to become an even more important part of my life. I am currently working on balancing my professional life in that sense.
How would you describe your style and your artistic universe?
Most of my photos are taken in the streets, so I guess that we could classify it as street photography. In reality, I practice street photography as the street is my first and most convenient resource. I like to play with the limits between reality and abstract, moreover, I don't pretend to depict reality. I enjoy black and white photos with heavy contrasts and blurred pictures, precisely because those characteristics help me to get away from a strict representation of reality. The more I practice and the more I understand that my photography is much more related to my interior self rather than the subjects appearing in my photos. Somehow, it became a way to express how I feel in this reality, rather than representing the latest.
What do you enjoy the most about analog photography?
What I like the most about analog photography, and which is very hard to obtain with digital cameras, it's the accidents. Errors of focus or exposure, as well as scanning problems. The production process of an analog photograph leaves plenty of room for imperfections to occur and render a unique result. I cherish those imperfections. I also explore the field of mistakes with digital photography, notably by using obsolete cameras, but the results depend much more on my will to obtain a mistake.
What is your personal history with our Diana cameras?
A little bit more than 10 years ago, I was able to get my hands on a Diana+. Back then, I was only used to my Pentax Spotmatic. My first films left me totally perplexed... The approximative framing, the uncertain exposure, the irregular focus, or light leaks, but it is through those films that I first enjoyed accidents. I believe we can define the Diana as a camera with joyful accidents. At the time, a big part of my memories were captured with a Diana camera. Memories made of portraits of my friends whose faces were cut by the frames, places with poorly defined edges, and blinding suns. And so today, you allowed me to try the Diana Instant Square. Although quite more voluminous than the original Diana, the points of references are the same. It has been quite a few years since I last used my Diana, therefore I had to get used to once again fail a lot of photographs and simply go with the flow. I rediscovered all the elements that I enjoyed back in the day, with the instant photos as a bonus. I also tried to play with the limits of the Instax in terms of exposure and colors, as I do not have black and white Instax.
Can you tell us a bit more about your series of photos taken with the Diana Instant Square ?
Initially, I thought of using it during my vacations on the Quiberon peninsula, but hurricane Alex decided otherwise. I have some pictures of the wild coast and the sea prior to the storm. I like the preview of those two pictures of the sea because they clearly announce the incoming hurricane. In this series also figure a few chiaroscuros. I was surprised to succeed with the little exposure control the Diana offers. I also particularly appreciate the photo of the almost invisible storefront. Taken as a whole, the series might seem quite inconsistent, but when looking closely, it witnesses this strange period of time. This year arrived like a storm that failed all of our plans. The edges of our lives seem today quite blurred. Blurred, like the photo of the Statue of Liberty, taken in backlight.
What did you think of the camera? Do you have a preference for any of its lenses ?
We can clearly recognize the spirit of the Diana in the Diana Instant Square, it is a camera that invites you to lose yourself and embrace your mistakes. It is probably not adapted to street photography due to its size and my inability to operate it quickly. However, I think it would be perfect as a journaling means. I like the idea that the photos are blurry and not so precise. Creating an album of souvenirs with the Diana Instant Square seems appropriate to me. I was able to try out its different lenses and my favorite is the 55 mm wide-angle, as it corresponds to the focal I usually use. I also enjoy the 110 mm telephoto lens and its heavy vignetting, which give us the impression of a round-shaped photograph, and works pretty well with one particular object in its center.
Is there any future project you would like to share with our Community?
I have a project regarding souvenirs, grief, and family relationships. For this project, I use a pinhole camera, without a tripod, in order for the micromovements of my hands to reflect on my photos. Choosing such a camera and process enabled me to express what I believe is a memory. A souvenir of myself, not necessarily framed properly, with blurred edges and an imprecise focus. The experience with the Diana Instant Square also inspired me with a new project about the manifestation of the sun in my inner self. I capture sunny photos of objects which represent my identity.
We would like to thank Michel Leung Kut for sharing his photos and impressions with us. You can follow his future projects on his Instagram.
Purchase our Diana Instant Square camera on our Online Shop.