Interview Series – Mark Lobo : how did you start photography

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A friend was organising her relocation and she found an unused film camera hidden in the corner collecting dust. She gave it to me knowing my passion for photography.

It has been a long long time I have not been using any film camera so I started investigating work of photographers that are using film as a photography medium to find some inspiration. I came through this interesting project called Von Vintage from photographer Mark Lobo. He is using a film camera, a literally dying media, to document objects from the past, such a clever idea. He adds that warm feeling to the photo, that atmosphere that the object deserves.

I started checking his website and the projects he is involved. His work has really a wow factor. I contacted him, I really wanted to have him in the Interview Series.

Q. How did you start photography?

I grew up in Tokyo, where photography is a part of everyday life.  Disposable cameras were, and still are a popular medium used by everyone to document our everyday lives. I went through hundreds of disposable cameras over the years, simply pointing and shooting, and and capturing life growing up in Tokyo.  It was quick and easy and also unpredictable.

Soon came my university years, where I moved from analogue to a 2 megapixel point and shoot. The camera was terrible and was terrible in low light.  But it was compact, much like the disposable cameras that I was used to. I carried on documenting everything that happened and in later years this somehow evolved into a professional career!

Q. What was your initial inspiration? Whose work has influenced you most?

People have always been, and still are my biggest inspirations.  90% of my work involves working with people, whether it be through photographing them or collaborations.  In every day life, I try to surround myself with inspiring friends who are doing great things.  They all constantly inspire and push me to do what I love.

Q. What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?

I didn’t know a lot, so there are quite a number of things I would have loved to know at the time.  Although I’m happy with the path that my photography has taken over the years, I think I could have done with a bit more knowledge on the business side of photography.  It’s something that I find I’m constantly learning more about on a daily basis and is essential in helping to keep my personal work alive and sustainable.

Q. What makes the good pictures stand out from the average?

There are so many things that I feel  go in to creating good photographs. It could be the use of composition or colour, technical knowledge or even just the story behind the photograph.  All of this, combined with a unique point of view, often make my favourite types of images.  These are the images that have the power to grab my focus and have me unable to look away.  That’s what I look for in a good photograph.

Q. Do you think that the social environments, facebook and the like, help to spread a message, a photo, a project?

Absolutely. Social media sites, like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram have all helped connect me to other photographers or clients.  At the same time, I find that I really enjoy sites like Instagram.  For me it takes a less serious and fun approach to photography, something I crave to find balance between commercial and personal work. It leaves itself open to experimentation and the fun that comes with this new era of photography.

My social media: Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook

Q. What would you like to say to a person who wants to take up photography?

“Know what you want”.  This works for me on so many levels,  from knowing what I want to shoot before i pick up my camera, to knowing where i want to be in 30 years.  It helps bring value to the things we do on a daily basis.

Q. Among your works, which one is your favorite? Why?

My favourite image is actually a photograph of a camera that I shot a few years ago. It’s a part of my Von Vintage project, which takes a look at the keepsakes of the past and photographed through the dying medium of film.  This image was taken in outback QLD on a cattle property and I really love everything about it.  (it’s the first image on this page: http://www.marklobo.com.au/projects/vonvintage/ )

Q. Von Vintage takes me back to the 70s. Using a film camera to document objects from the past. What was the idea behind it?

I’ve always loved the way older cameras were designed but was also slightly saddened to think that a lot of these cameras as well as a range of beautiful vintage objects are continuously finding their way into landfill. I decided that I wanted to work on a project that preserved these beautiful vintage aesthetics, both through photography and helping to keep old film cameras alive and in use.

Through that, came Von Vintage (which is short for Vintage on Vintage). The images are all photographed using old vintage film cameras, to ensure they appear almost timeless, as photographs that could have been shot half a century ago, or yesterday.

Q. How did you like to use film cameras for this project and how easier, or more difficult, is to work with them (compared to the digital cameras)?

With film, the process is almost meditative and much more calming than shooting a fast paced digital commercial job. This is mainly because I’m shooting for myself and there are no clients overlooking me, guiding me or my subject. With Von Vintage, it’s purely me and I can take my time with it. I feel a lot more connected with the photography when I’m shooting film, primarily because there is a longer and more involved process. I spend time before the shoot buying film and spooling it into the camera. Then I’ll frame up a shot, take a manual light reading, and shoot two or three frames. I’ll do this a few more times and it’s time to wind through the film an start another roll. After that, comes driving out to get the film developed and returning a few days later to pick up the negatives. I like to edit digitally so I usually schedule in a night every few months to do all my scanning. I still have negatives from a few years ago in my queue! I find that this “slowness” helps me with my commercial work though. It’s always good to be a calm photographer even in the most chaotic environments. I feel like shooting film definitely helps me stay composed and focused on getting a perfect shot when I’m shooting commercially.

Q. Let’s talk about your next project

I’ve got quite a few ongoing projects. My favourite is called “In Their Shoes“, which looks at the honest moments of distraction that get captured before, during and after the “main” photographs have been taken.

Not all of my projects are online yet, but you can see a few of both the finished ones and those still in progress here

 http://www.marklobo.com.au/

 https://www.facebook.com/MarkLoboPhotography

 

Many thanks again to Mark and don’t forget to subscribe to the monthly email to avoid missing any upcoming article, great photos, interviews and much more.


 


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Stefano Ferro
Stefano is a cycling, movie and life style photographer with a big love for landscape & travel photography. When in Melbourne, his hometown, you will see him cycling around at sunset or sunrise looking for the best spot for a photo of this beautiful city. It is quite amazing how much photography gear he can pack on his bike :o

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