• Analog Set

    A growing number of creative folks prefer lo-fi process to digital perfection.

    Story — Liza Ryan
    Lead Images — Aaron Van Bokhoven

    Like it or loathe it, analog is back. Even while digital media sources like iTunes reign supreme, with global downloads recently cresting 25 billion, there is an increasing number of lo-fi enthusiasts who prefer to embrace the imperfections and impermanence of film, typed pages, sketching and vinyl over MP3s and Instagram.

    For this new generation of analog media fanatics, the creative process isn’t about perfection. On the contrary, it centers on reconnecting with the original technology we used to express ourselves. Instead of modern digital innovations that do it all, they prefer using items like a Moleskine notebook, a record player, a camera, or a typewriter that serve only one purpose. The payoff is personal creative discovery and the real possibility of the “happy accident” in their work.

    Western Civ spoke with a few analog enthusiasts to find out what drives them to look back toward antiquated technology in order to push their creativity forward.

  • Aaron Van Bokhoven: Film photographer

    Weapon of choice: M6 Leica Rangefinder

    Not only is Van Bokhoven’s craft in his hands, it’s on them as well, with a four-letter word depicting his passion; “FILM” is tattooed on his knuckles. With orby, little glasses and a fashionable man-satchel, he looks 19, but is actually much older. On Sundays, you can spot him loitering on the Waikiki Beach strip with his analog crew, hunting tourists with his viewfinder. When he’s not knee-deep in binary code (ironically, his day job is computer programming), he’s wielding a Leica Rangefinder — his sole camera because it was so damn expensive.

    “I think when it comes to analog, you are leaving it a little open for things to happen that aren’t planned, versus things that are digital, which were created to be perfect.”

    According to Van Bokhoven, it’s that variable that puts the craftsmanship back into photography; you can’t just take 1,000 shots and hope one turns out. When the roll goes to the darkroom, there’s only so much that can be done or undone. What really matters, in the end, is if you can take a picture.

    Learn more at : aaronvb.com

  • Hamburger Eyes: Photography Publishers

    Weapon of choice: Printed Zines

    Internet dealt a nearly fatal blow to the printed zine. Had it not been for passionate guys like Ray and David Potes, we might never have had the chance to ponder these wobbly black & white leaflets papering your local alternative bookstore.

    Their work of copying, distributing and documenting the street on paper has drawn other like-minded photographers into the fold. So much so that on Valentine’s Day in 2001, the Potes brothers and others launched their DIY photography zine, Hamburger Eyes. They wanted to put something out there that showed San Francisco for the hot mess it can be. Printed on regular 8 1/2” x 10” printer paper, Xeroxed prodigiously (Ray worked at Kinko’s for years, so he “pretty much had that part down”), and distributed by hand, Hamburger Eyes (now a popular magazine and online photo forum) brought photography back to the street and, more importantly, put it in the hands of people who cared about showing more than pretty faces and waterfalls.

    “I’ve noticed the increase. It’s been crazy lately,” says Ray. “Lots of people are shooting in black and white, maybe because it’s almost extinct.”

    Even though the guys admit that if they had the money, they’d go “super hi-tech,” their low-brow, no-fi take on magazine-making has carved out a place for the crazed doodler and amateur photographer to show off their raw, unbridled talent.

    Learn more at : hamburgereyes.com

  • Paz Lenchantin: Videographer

    Weapon of choice: Super 8

    A multi-faceted morph, Paz Lenchantin shoots music videos for her own rock outfit, The Entrance Band, on a Super 8 camera that she inherited from her mother. A Sophia Coppola-gone-patchouli femme fatale, she chooses to swim against the mainstream and do all of her work the old way because it “looks better than digital.” The crunchy ’70s vibe is proof of her artistic backwardness when it comes to equipment. Her penchant for the unexpected is best exhibited in her editing style — she just “opens and closes the cartridge housing to let light in in an uncontrolled form. Sometimes it looks great,” she says. “But most of the time it’s just washed out nonsense. That could also look great.”

    At a time when most actual moviemaking occurs in the editing suite instead of on-set, Lenchantin is cutting her own creative path. When asked about others like her that attempt to switch over to analog film like Super 8, she responds: “They do and they stop.” The reason, she contends, is because it’s expensive and hard, and not really very practical.

    Learn more at : theentranceband.com