Lomographer Alexzandra Roy is no stranger to experimenting with her film. As the cold months have finally rolled in, she finds herself reminiscing on her photo diary from the previous summer and all of the different techniques she's used to physically edit the film, from cross-processing slide film at home to making film soup.
Hi Alexzandra, welcome back to Lomography Magazine! Can you tell us what you've been up to since your last feature?
Lately I’ve been shooting shows and studying film as a whole in my free time. The most interesting thing I’ve developed recently was a rusted shut roll of film I had to quite literally pry open.
Can you tell us about what went into the making of your photo diary?
I just capture my daily life and moments I want to hold on to a little longer. The images I collected together are some that spark the most joy. Some from my travels to other states, and some just a few blocks away from my front door.
Can you walk us through how you film soup your black and white photos?
It depends widely on my mood and what I have accessible. I love to use soap most frequently because it feels predictable for precious memories. When I’m feeling stuck I usually throw together white vinegar and water and let my images boil for about two minutes. The feeling of unpredictability is sometimes more rewarding than the images captured on the film.
How do you cross process the slide film?
I have a standard C-41 developing kit that I mix and usually store for way too long. I use Cinestill 50d when I cross process. Sometimes the over expired lifespan of the chemicals plays a big role. But once again, there’s a lot of unpredictability.
What initially inspired you to start experimenting with your visual diary?
After taking pictures of my life for so many years I started to want to play with the process. I thought, if I already have rolls from travels ready, why not just use those? Now I find new ways to put my emotions into the image even after the latent image is engrained.
How do you decide what rolls of film you want to experiment with?
I live in chaos. I have unmarked rolls in at least six different purses at all times. Life moves so fast I lose track of whats what. One day I’m visiting a friend in Nashville, the next I'm at a show, the next I'm socializing in some other loud room. I usually group rolls together as months instead of individual moments. Lately, I’ve been slowing down to begin setting intentions per roll and I’ve really enjoyed it.
Do you have a favorite photo from the series? Is there a story behind it?
My favorite photo is probably the one of Bianca (my decade long internet best friend) standing in front of a mural. I took it in Detroit while I was visiting. She’s one of my favorite people to photograph and has an 80s-style energy radiating off her at all times. We got ice cream and walked along the river looking at Canada until we got tired.
Are there any techniques that you haven't tried yet that you'd like to test out in the future?
I think there may be thousands. I realized recently how endless experimenting can be. It almost seems there’s not enough time in a day to do it more often.
Do you have any advice for those who want to try experimenting with their photos?
Main tips: the more acidic, the more destruction. The longer it soups, the more destruction. And don’t send your souped film to labs without calling to double check with them first.
You can’t be afraid of it. It’s scary but everything is at first. What you fear to gain, you’ve already lost.
Anything else that you'd like to share?