Experimentation takes center stage and serves as the "driving force" behind community member April's (LomoHome: @wasitapril) work. Through film photography, which she pursues with much creative freedom, she willingly learns the rules to break them "in order to create surprising color shifts, surreal effects or provocative imagery", as she notes in her first gallery of experiments.
In this interview we got to know more about the Parisian artist, who's also the winner of the Lomography x EXP.22: Experimental Photography contest.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, how you started with film photography and what keeps you going?
Hi! My artist name is April and I live in Paris. I got started with film photography only three years ago when I started to shoot my first rolls with a Canon AL-1. I received it from a family member by chance and I am not going to lie: my first rolls turned out all blurry, over or underexposed - I literally had no idea what I was doing. So getting into the medium was an interesting challenge as I first had to learn some photography basics.
Observing how my images became better along this learning curve was what sparked my interest besides the aesthetics of it. As I am usually a person that can lose interest very quickly. Film photography offered itself to me as something that could keep me excited and still is. For me, the physical aspect of film is what ultimately differentiates it from digital photography. It is alive, it exists and one has the chance to work with that. You can play with film infinitely.
How did you start with experimental photography and what about it keeps you intrigued?
In general, I would say I have always had the tendency to improvise stuff and be inspired with whatever is around me. I just like to get my hands dirty. So some months into shooting film I started to get tired of taking my rolls to the lab and I decided to develop them at home. I feel like that was probably the starting point for me to also start with some experiments.
I wanted to see how I could break the rules to find some beautiful surprises. So I would start to filmsoup / cross-process my rolls or manipulate them after the developing process with whatever I could find in my drawers.
What's your go-to film photography gear now?
I like to experiment with different brands but usually stick to a 400 or 800 ISO for film stocks.
Do you have a favorite in your first experimental album or just your favorite experimental photo? Why that specific experiment and can you walk us through your process for it? This one is particularly interesting!
I think this one is my favorite from this album. I like how at first glimpse you just don’t understand what it is and if it’s even a photograph. For me personally, being able to create something that looks otherworldly/surreal is what makes film photography so special to me. It’s the possibilities you have with the medium beyond exposing the film to light.
This one is a shot of a friend and was shot underwater with a Nikonos-V. The lower part is the reflection of the body on the surface of the water. So the image is actually reversed. I really liked how the body and the reflection at some point just merge.
One of your photos also won the Lomography x EXP.22: Experimental Photography award. Can you tell us about the photo and your reaction to winning?
Yes! That was such a lovely surprise. I think I submitted this photo particularly because I used to receive a lot of questions about how it was done. To some extent I really value the mystery it leaves and I think I want to respect that. If you look closely you can probably understand how it’s done. What I can say: it’s not film souped.
Finally, winning the award allowed me to participate in the workshops of the experimental photo festival, which was a great experience and inspiration for new projects.
Which materials do you usually use for your experiments?
Most of the manipulation I do is either before developing = filmsoup, or after developing = before scanning, e.g. burning parts of the negative. For the filmsoup, I usually like to take whatever I find in the kitchen, e.g. dish soap, cleaning chemicals (that include some bleach), lemon, tea bags, spices, and I always add some salt.
As an artist, do you find that you like talking about your process or do you prefer to leave a photo to your viewers' interpretation/imagination?
I do like to leave a photo to the viewers' interpretation because for me that's where the magic ultimately happens. I find it beautiful that we all see the world with different eyes, so I want to embrace that. And for other photographers, I think it's more interesting to play around, experiment and to be surprised by what you can come up with.
Do you have any tips or advice for anyone starting with experimental film photography?
Don’t think too much, just do it, see and learn. If you want to break the rules you also need to cherish the risk that comes with it. Don’t be afraid to fail. Experimental film photography for me is really about trial and error.
Don’t be disappointed if something doesn’t work as you imagined it, because I guarantee that there will be those crazy moments where you will get surprised in the best way - mind blowing. Finally, it’s all a learning process and I am glad even for the (stupid) mistakes I made. Where would be the fun without them?
Are there any projects about film or outside of film photography you want to share with the community?
When it comes to personal projects I am trying to slow things down a bit more. I am curious to explore the potentiality of a single photograph and how it can come to life as a physical piece of art. So be or be not ready for more mixed media projects in the future! Best way to stay up to date is by following me on Instagram.