Bleak beauty

Nomi gave me a camera for Christmas. Not just any camera and most definitely not a digital camera. No, it was a Diana Mini, one of the many forgotten treasures being revived by the burgeoning lomography movement. It takes 35mm film. Remember that?

Though the relentless cool can grate after a while, I like the lomography manifesto. It's all about experimentation: take your camera with you everywhere; don't think; shoot from the hip; ignore the rules. And I suppose by making these cameras cool again, lomography may just have saved film from extinction. I think this is a good thing because as anyone who's ever spent time in a darkroom will testify, analogue photography is just a little bit magic.

The Diana Mini is a seriously lo-fi bit of kit (more realistically, it's a toy camera, but don't tell the fashionistas). Focussing is rudimentary and requires a bit of guesswork. There are two apertures, sunny and cloudy. There's no way to adjust for film speed. It has a plastic lens. It's nigh on impossible to frame a shot. But I find all of this liberating. Sod all the menus and adjustments and endless fiddling that the digital world encourages. Forget any idea of control. Just point and shoot and wait and see. I'd forgotten the thrill of having to wait for your photos to be processed, the disappointment when the ones you hoped for turn out to be rubbish and the little moment of joy when others unexpectedly work.

So here are my favourites from my very first roll of film, all taken in Cornwall over the twelve days of Christmas. The only editing I've done is to crop off the blank edges (the Diana takes photos in square or half-frame format). I think they capture some of the bleak beauty of the British seaside in winter but, whatever, they certainly reflect my mood.


  1. They look great Andy! Do you get the negatives scanned, when they are processed. I don't suppose you've been into the darkroom yourself,(at least not literally speaking)?
    P.S. how many shots do you get to a roll of 35mm film,(presumably the regular 24/36 frames)?

  2. I got them processed and printed at Snappy Snaps, of all places. I could have got them all put onto CD as well but didn't feel the extra cost was worth it, so scanned them in at home. The colours are slightly cooler than on the prints. I used bogstandard Boots 200 35mm film, 36 exposures. Lots of fun! x

  3. The next stage of lomography is cross-processing. Get slide film and process it using print chemicals.



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