I created my flickr account in 2005. At the time, I wasn’t interested in photography at all. It was simply the most convenient method for sharing holiday or party snaps with friends and family. It was another several years before facebook and photo-tagging came along to change all that. A few months after joining flickr, I became curious about the rest of the site, and used Explore to check out popular photos and other photographers. That’s how I first came across Lomokev (also known as Kevin Meredith) and lomography, and I remember being amazed by his photos, and how a good eye for a shot, a basic analogue Lomo camera and cross processing methods could produce such dramatic results. As an active photographer Kevin joined flickr with an impressive portfolio of existing work, and quickly built up a huge following, becoming something of a flickr celebrity with work published in magazines, books and regularly securing commissions. If you’re not familiar with his work then check out his flickr albums here, and that’s the man himself in my photo below.
I’d been aware Kevin had started to run weekend photography courses, “Hot Shots” aimed at “refreshing your photography” for amateurs and professionals alike, and I was intrigued to sign-up for this. For one reason or another, most likely forgetfulness the dates never worked out. However, after a period of solely working continuously on client shoots and losing track with personal projects it seemed like the perfect way to bunker down and spend a weekend concentrating on my own photography for a change.
In August, I finally signed up for the course, booked my train tickets and packed my camera. Luckily for me, and perhaps the other who had also signed up, it was just two of us on this particular weekend. As we weren’t newcomers and had significant experience we were able to get on with things to some degree, and it was a balanced group. Kevin is a friendly, approachable guy and the majority of the time it felt like three enthusiasts hanging out on a shoot together, as opposed to a teacher dishing out lessons to his students. Even to an experienced photographer, Kevin’s intro and presentation on composition and selection of a good subject, was a nice reminder of the principles of photography and an excellent insight into another photographer’s approach. Kevin drew not only on his portfolio but the works of other photographers past and present to good effect.
When we were handed our Lomo LCAs to go out and shoot with, it was a liberating experience. No longer could we look at the back of the camera to review the last shot, or fiddle with controls or zoom as the Lomo is basically a box! With an overwhelming list of subjects to shoot and a short time frame to get them, the pressure was on! Admittedly it took more time than I expected to adjust, but once you got into the frame of mind to shoot and move along, there was less to distract you, or over complicate things. It was a challenging process, particularly with tasks such as approaching a stranger for a portrait, as my way has always been to let things unfold naturally before me. Funnily enough, it was easier than I thought, perhaps working in a new way and unfamiliar place made that process easier… it must have as I stopped at least half a dozen people for their photo.
Day two kicked off with a review of our photos, which had been developed and picked up by Kevin the night before. It was a rare experience having to wait so long to see what we’d snapped, and to examine the effects the Lomo lens and processing had on our shots. I was genuinely unsure if any of my shots were in focus, or if some of the things I’d plan to appear in frame actually had. I was pleased with the results and the constructive feedback and discussion that followed after was very useful. Kevin discussed the basis of initiating and maintaining an ongoing project with examples from his own work along with others. Like the day before, this was nothing new for me, but yet hearing it from someone else and viewing the different examples Kevin had collected it was a refreshing reminder. To reinforce that lesson we went out to shoot a project we had to think about the night before, reviewing our photos for discussion later that afternoon. Again, this was a useful lesson in not overthinking things, and to just get out there and shoot. My initial idea didn’t quite work out, but as it quickly became rainy I improvised and shot interesting umbrellas that were opening up left, right and centre. If day one was very much about keeping your eyes open to work through the extensive shot list, then day two worked as reminder about thinking on your feet and improvising when need be.
In summary, it’s pretty much as Kevin advertises on his page, the Hot Shots course is suitable from novice level to seasoned veteran. Kevin was always happy to share his thoughts, technique and approach on photography during the weekend, and in my view this makes him a good teacher for novices and an insightful critic for those with a bit more experience. It definitely made me more open to the idea of signing up to something similar with other photographers. If you hadn’t already guessed the shots interspersing this article are a selection of mine taken on the Lomo LCA and another film camera, along with the improvised umbrella project snaps below.
You can find out more about the Hot Shots Photography Course, on Kevin’s website by clicking here.