The following is a somewhat long e-interview I did with Anja Martin concerning the art of camera tossing for her new article in Germany's Foto Magazin. If you've been keeping track at news here at lightXposed, you can tell that my perspective has changed a little bit since the time of this interview. What can I say though? Camera tossing is still relatively new and is constantly evolving. Have fun reading this especially long interview.
Location: Sugar Land, Texas, United States of America
Profession: Student and Medical Intern
1. What brought you to camera tossing?
I was brought into camera tossing through a photo sharing community called Flickr. The camera tossing group was featured on the groups page, and I decided to view it only to find amazing abstract images that were ironically done with a camera. I had a digital camera and a light, so I thought I’d try it. And with the beautiful results it produced, I started the art of camera tossing.
2. What’s the fascination about it? What drives you to do it again and again?
Tossing the camera is what is fascinating about it. Just think about, have you ever thought of any type of photography that involved throwing an expensive piece of equipment in the air? The answer is simply "no", and when I do it myself, I am thrilled by the mere fact that my camera is in the air taking a picture when I’m not even controlling it. But what really causes the excitement is the tension and stress (a good stress) that I get from throwing my camera. It’s a gamble between your camera or an amazing photo. For me, I love the gamble. Its all in the uncertainty of what is going to happen. And lastly, the image that pops up on the screen when I catch my camera drives me to keep on tossing my camera even more. It's so simple, and it takes only about 2 seconds to produce what a graphic designer would take hours to make.
3. Isn’t it frustrating to get random results? Or aren’t the results random at all?
Frustrating? No… It’s interesting to get random results. That’s why you do it. It’s like opening a door to see what’s behind it. It may be something bad or maybe something good, but it’s the excitement of doing it in the first place. Depending on the skill level of camera tossing, it's quite easy to get similar results if you want to. It's all about controlling your wrists and your hand. Over time you will be able to memorize certain movements and can easily create identical camera tosses. However, when casually tossing, results are usually random, and that’s how I like it.
4. Aren’t you worried about your camera? How many cameras have you ruined? What cameras do you use?
Of course I’m worried about my camera. It’s a $500.00 piece of equipment that I can’t afford to buy again. But as a thrill seeker, I’ll take the risks. In the past year of tossing, I haven’t damaged any of my cameras at all. The most I’ve done to my Sony CyberShot DSC-T1 is accidentally open the battery flap letting the battery fly out while midair. As I said earlier, I use a Sony Cybershot DSC-T1 and would highly recommend it as a starting camera for camera tossing. It's thin and just the right weight to do successful spins and flips.
5. There are probably a couple of ways to get a good image. Have you found your own technique?
Actually, there are no specific ways of getting a good photo. In any technique, one can produce a beautiful image. It's mainly a matter of the light source and positioning of the camera while in the air. I like to spin my cameras as fast as possible, doesn’t matter any direction, just fast. Manipulating your own light source also enables more flexibility to get the results that you want.
6. Are there “How-to’s” discussed in the community, or is it more the personal secret of everyone?
The How To’s are a great resource for beginners. Actually it’s just setting the camera in a long exposure mode (usually a night setting with no flash) and tossing the camera in the air for about a second. There’s no concrete way of doing it. However, as one continues to toss, each person develops his or her own style that is equally beautiful to everyone else’s. Sorry no secrets here…
7. Are there basics to remember to get a good result?
The most important thing I would say to get a good result is to have the camera on the right setting (long exposure) and a good light subject. For beginners, I would highly recommend going out on the streets and tossing in front of cars. It's an easy subject that can’t be missed no matter what angle your camera is thrown at.
8. Are there any “Dont’s” at camera tossing? During the shooting and afterwards? Photoshop for example?
Hmm…I would say, "Don’t drop your camera!" But secondary to that would be don’t hold on to your camera in any fashion. This will produce light smears or light painting-like results. Thus holding on to your camera with a strap won’t produce a camera toss image. Editing the image depends on what your doing to the camera toss. Most of my camera toss photos never need any photoshopping. Photoshop can be used to: Crop, Resize, Contrast, Brighten, Saturate, or Desaturate. It’s not morally good to do any major editing because it would defeat the purpose of doing a camera toss in the first place…
9. Are there any Categories inside camera tossing? I saw self portrait and toss TV (by the way: I guess you don’t toss the TV but the camera??). Is there something else? Or is it nonsense to split camera tossing up into several subcategories?
Camera Tossing has several subcategories including camera toss portrait, daylight camera tossing, and TV tossing. Those are the three main subcategories of the general camera toss. But in reality, it’s all camera tossing but with a change in the light subject.
10. Which kind of camera toss images fascinate you most?
I would say camera tosses of CRT computer screens fascinates me the most. They are very similar to TV tosses, but produce a clearer and more vibrant result.
11. About the community: How big is the community and how important is it to you? Where do you exchange thoughts, ideas and images? Are the members totally different or do you think they have something in common? Probably a way of life, thinking, character or just the way of dealing with photography?
There are about 3,000 members in the Flickr camera toss group. Though this may seem like a large number, you will come to learn that maybe only one tenth fully participate in camera tossing. Many join the group to look at images, and other’s are one time camera tossers that just want to show off what they’ve done. The community is great. I’ve found my spot in one of the most active camera tossers in the camera tossing community. As I said earlier, Flickr is one of my main methods of sharing ideas and talking to other camera tossers. However, I share my camera tossing photography to the whole world on my camera tossing gallery called lightXposed. This website allows me to see what the world is thinking, especially abstract art and photography enthusiasts. The members in the community are of all ages and races, but we are all united under the style of camera tossing.
12. Camera toss starts to get into galleries and museums. Have you already had an exhibition?
I have participated in one exhibition so far called the Command Z exhibition at the Torrance Art Museum in California. It was a great experience and was particularly interesting to see the public's reactions to camera tossing. I however plan on doing another exhibition in New York later on this year, and another in a local restaurant.
13. Which reactions do you get on your photos? For example friends and family? Do they take your hobby serious?
The most common reaction I get is “You did that on your camera?!” But otherwise, it's just the public and friends. Ironically, I haven’t even told my parents about camera tossing at all. They have no idea what I’m doing, but I guess I’ll surprise them one day with my great successes. But yes, my friends always want to see me perform a camera toss, and they absolutely love lightXposed.
14. How much is the waste in camera tossing?
Waste? What waste? It’s all gain and nothing to lose (besides a lot of time – its very distracting!)
15. Do you make the pictures on your daily routes or when you get bored in front of TV? Or is it more of a planned shooting?
As a busy high school student, most of my camera tosses occur whenever I find it. Deliberate shootings are rare for me. I usually do camera tosses when out in the city, or walking at night or in the early morning. However, camera tossing is a great thing to take up when I’m bored. I may do it at school, or if I’m bored enough, I’ll go outside to take some.
16. Is it kind of a game, or is it hard work? Probably sometimes too hard to get the result you want?
Hark work? Absolutely not! It's more of a game to try to get the best photograph you can get. It's never too hard to do a camera toss, even if you don’t get the results you want. Just try again later! It only takes 2 seconds to do one.
17. Is there any interesting, funny or dramatic by-story you experienced with camera tossing and you’d like to tell?
I’ve attempted to do extremely high camera tosses, but when you do this at night, its hard to see where you camera has gone. And one night, it was as if it disappeared into thin air. I couldn’t see it, but when it came back down, it hit me on the head giving me a bruise (but I still caught the camera!)
18. How do people and bystanders react to camera tossing?
Most think “What the bloody hell is that little boy doing?!” If people ask, I show them what I just captured on my camera, and they’re almost always amazed.
19. How would you place camera toss within “fun photography”? For Example is it connected to Lomo? Are the people connected somehow?
It’s definitely fun photography, and shouldn’t be connected to work or labor at all.
20. Is there a future for camera toss?
I would say there is a future for camera tossing! It's so easy and fun and it produces the greatest abstract pictures anywhere! But realistically speaking, I believe that camera toss photos will make it onto the news and into famous galleries and museums one day.