We're proud to partner with Exposure Toronto on this new series of artist features. Exposure Toronto was founded in 2020 as a not-for-profit organization focusing on the amplification of Black creatives within the photography industry. Their community and studio are built to provide a safe and accessible space as well as financial, physical resources and opportunities.
We want to get to know these talented artists involved and support Exposure Toronto in highlighting the artists' work and thoughts. We've sent Exposure Toronto some Lomography films and Art Lenses for their photographers to play with. Today we're featuring photographer Chinelo Yasin. Equipped with our Color Negative 800 in a Hasselblad 500cm and Berlin Kino B&W 400 in a Pentax Espio 105S, Chinelo produced a photo series with model Warren Adzska formerly known as DENT. She shares with us a bit about her life as a young creative and her desire to stay true to her vision and experiences amidst the growing creative community. Here's her story.
Welcome to the Lomo Community, Chinelo! Who are you and how's life as an artist these days?
What's up Lomo fam! I am not one to easily articulate what I mean so I simply say ‘yes’ to anything that visually pleases me. For real though, being a young artist and navigating my creative journey during the pandemic is just as liberating as you would think. Amongst all the restrictions, many artists are finding creative ways to reach their art to their audience and lately, I’ve been all about attending as many functions and putting myself out there experiencing new things outside of my comfort zone. That being said, unfortunately I am a textbook introvert, but one thing the pandemic has taught me and countless others like me is to accept the unknown agenda and find peace with it.
When and how did your photography journey begin?
Photography has always been an outlet for me to feel more grounded and in the moment. It is borderline therapeutic—not so much on my bank account, but you get what I mean. My main goal when shooting is to feel present and capture the emotions of whatever I am about to capture: “I am right here and this is what I see”. I started actively shooting film in 2018, just around the time I moved to Toronto, solo. I quickly caught on to the habit of never leaving the house without at least one roll of film with any point-and-shoot camera. Despite being an introvert, the process of shooting film photography never fails to captivate me and pushes me to go out, explore, and meet new people.
Sadly, time is forever racing past us and although I still have a basic understanding about film photography, I feel attentive in the process of it all. There’s this feeling I get—almost like a creative high where I’m in awe of the lighting, the scene, the vibe, the conversation, the music--and in that moment, I must capture it to reminisce about it later.
What's being a part of Exposure Toronto like? What does it mean to you?
Being a part of the Exposure Toronto community has been nothing but helpful. Exposure Toronto serves as a great way to network with people of color and utilize any readily available resources and opportunities. Much like ExposureTO, finding any relevant community spaces is essential to gain skills and growth for any artist. Having a safe space that amplifies your community to the core is all any emerging artist needs to get up and running, and Exposure Toronto does just that.
Can you describe your creative style in four different words?
Let’s see, I would say: In motion, candid and unapologetic.
Onto your photos! What was the inspiration behind this series and choosing your model?
This series was super experimental and I decided to bring out some new, but essential equipment as well—look at me owning a light meter and a 5-in-1 reflector! Most of my work begins with street photography. Then if the opportunity allows, I go back to familiar scenes and bring a model with me. The storyline for this shoot pertains to simply existing in common spaces. I’ve recently moved into a new neighborhood and there’s this area near a church that I walk past everyday on my way to work and back. During the day when the sun is at its peak, the colors of the brick wall buildings shimmer and illuminate the whole scene. At night, the several light lamps create a warm feel to the area.
I asked my friend DENT to pull up in a leather inspired outfit and emote his natural self. I brought along a Telfar hat as my item of focus for the shoot; anytime I am going out to shoot film, I always find small things to fixate on. I also tend to tether a specific song to any series of shoots and for this one I had playing “Gospel For A New Century” by Yves Tumor and “Chances” by Kaytranada & Shay Lia.
How did you enjoy the Color Negative 800 and Berlin B&W 400 film stocks? Do they complement your style?
Of course I did a little research about both of these film stocks prior to shooting with them and by research, I mean I google-searched published photos shot by each film stock. The Color Negative 800 was fantastic and reminded me of the FujiFilm PRO400H in terms of its ability to capture the perfect sunny conditions and highlight all green tones. I’m a big fan of greenery scenes, so that being said, Lomography’s Color Negative 800 has earned it place as my go-to when capturing scenes like those. The Berlin 400 black-and-white stock is smooth with the perfect amount of grain. I don’t shoot enough black and white, but I definitely plan on exploring more with it. The reason behind me choosing two different stocks to shoot with was because, often times different film stocks translate different feelings based on their color retention and latitude.
What are your recent go-to items to bring to a shoot?
I can proudly say I am now tethered to my light meter, otherwise I always have a 35 mm camera on me and my multicolor LED flashlight which serves as a great alternative light source for any spontaneous shoots in poorly-lit areas.
How do you challenge your creative process? Is there anything you hope to experiment with?
Being a creative in an era where everyone can call themselves a creative challenges me to focus on my craft and advance my technical understanding on what film photography is. I remember when I got my first medium format camera, the infamous Hasselblad 500cm — I must’ve loaded 120 mm film incorrectly on multiple occasions. The pain of discovering such a mistake killed my spirit, however, overcoming negative attitudes about failure is a must. Like many things in life, it's all trial and error. Of course I went through a phase of watching Youtube videos on how to load 120 film every time I was ready to shoot but hey, it's all about commitment.
Moving forward, I hope to experiment with expired film and distorting film in limitless ways. One major thing I hope to accomplish soon is learning to develop film and transferring images on different mediums. Being in a darkroom and watching the magic unfold will be a stellar experience as well. In the meantime, I am almost fully stocked on at least one roll of every C-41 color film and my goal is to learn the mechanical aspect of film photography with my new Minolta XG-1.
Lastly, what's lined up for the rest of 2021 for Chinelo Yasin?
Honestly, all I wish for myself is to maintain the resilience and drive towards my creativity. My work is my work, and I must trust the process above all else. I look forward to reading up on more prized and underrated photographers around the world and learn about their own journey with photography. As I continue to learn to be the most authentic version of myself, I’m excited to see how I master my craft and portray pieces of me in my work.
If you wish to reach out to me or see what I’m up to, you can find me on my social media:
Be sure to follow Chinelo in the links she provided above!