A series celebrating the talent of our friends over in the Londonist Flickr pool who make our site look great with their fabulous photographs. Here, they introduce themselves and share their favourite London shots.
Meet Lady Vervaine: Like many people on Flickr, I started taking pictures with a cheap compact digital camera. I learned a lot about photography from it. I liked the fact that I could see my pictures straight away, and that I could shoot as many as I liked for no extra cost. I took about 10,000 photographs with my first digital - mainly things I saw as I walked around the streets of London.
Whenever I looked at other people's pictures, though, I realised that what I loved most was film. It had a richness and depth that my digital never got near. But I was nervous about it - especially the idea of not being able to see my results immediately. So my first film camera was a secondhand Polaroid SX70. It's the classic Polaroid model you may remember from your childhood: it shoots out pictures which develop in minutes, so you can see what you've done right away. The immediacy of it made the transition to film much easier for me - and the Pola has a magic all its own, making the most mundane things look strange and dreamlike. No other camera I've ever had compares to it.
After getting used to the Pola, I started using a Holga. Holgas are the ultimate in low-tech photography. They're made of plastic and weigh almost nothing. There is a viewfinder, but it's entirely unrelated to the lens, so you frame the picture more by instinct than by looking. You can't change the aperture, and the focus settings are a bit of a mystery - but they use medium format film, which gives you a nice big negative, full of detail, so the images have a richness that I don't think digital images share. They're very cheap too; £25 will buy you a Holga!
Just lately, I've started to experiment with blurring and distorting my images, trying to get at something more mysterious and dreamlike. There are two main ways I do this. One is simply to adjust the focus so the result is a blissful blur. The Polaroid is particularly good for this. The other way is to put a filter over the lens, and to use various kinds of blurring substances on it. I've tried all sorts of things, including KY Jelly! But I think Vaseline is the best - this final image was taken with the Holga, with a Vaseline-smeared filter in front of it.
I feel I could never have made images like this with my digital camera; and that I'm only at the beginning of discovering what film can do. It's a very exciting journey, and a lot less scary than I thought So if you like the look of film, but haven't quite got it together to try shooting any yet - then go do it now - you won't look back!!!