Lois in Hong Kong

Lois uses an old film camera, one of those that aren’t commonly seen anymore so when we went out to take pictures, many people stopped by to ask about the camera or its story. Each conversation like that ended in a new connection – people who stopped by were oftentimes also film and photography enthusiasts, or they worked in the field as well. Some of them were simply surprised to see a photo taken in a non-digital way and wanted to understand more about the process. I think it was a really interesting experience and showed me that people are willing to explore new perspectives and concepts. This is also what Lois has taught me. Since taking a single photo with her camera requires a lot of time and preparation, as the camera needs to be set up, which takes around thirty minutes and then the film needs to be developed before it can be seen, she doesn’t see the final product until she gets from the photo walk back to the studio and spends hours on developing the new films. That means, that each photo has to be thought-through and intentional, which is not necessarily the case with the digital cameras or phones, which are known to perpetuate quantity over quality.

Lois told me to avoid looking at the pictures I take right after I take them because by doing so, we become content with the final outcome and that may limit our perception of other details and perspectives that can be captured. Just as she can’t look at the picture right after it’s taken and has to wait the whole day before the film is developed, the digital photographers shouldn’t look at the final outcomes of their work. It helps with remaining mindful regarding what we direct our attention to and what we want to live on forever as photographs. That advice made me realize that photos shouldn’t be just photos; they should become stories that we – and others – rediscover after they are taken.

Marta Gramatyka

Year 4, Chinese Studies major, CUHK

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