What’s Your Story? is a monthly series in which we find and talk to interesting people in our local community, whether they run a business, have an interesting job or do something else that we think is worthy of wider attention.
Kevin Meredith AKA ‘Lomokev’ is a Brighton based photographer, famous for his use of film compact cameras. He documents different aspects of seaside life, from early morning sea-swims to Brighton street style, as well as writing books and teaching classes on photography. We caught up with Kevin at his studio to find out more about his inspirations and methods.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST EXPOSURE TO PHOTOGRAPHY?
In 1996, when I started a GNVQ art course (kind of equivalent to A levels), students were given a list of stuff to buy for the course. On the list was an SLR camera, at the time I did not know what an SLR was. I did my induction into the photo lab and basic photography and I just got it. I did not go on to study photography at university but I kept it as something personal to me so it never became a chore. My photography really changed in 1998 when I got a Lomo LCA, which is a quirky Soviet camera designed in 1984. The LC-A changed the way I thought about photography, mainly to not take it too seriously. It gave me a lot of creative freedom; I could, and did, take it everywhere. The ability to use it in low light made it a game changer at the time. It seems funny now but when I got my LC-A there was not much to choose from if you wanted a half decent camera that could fit in your pocket, especially if you were on a budget.
WHO WERE YOUR INFLUENCES?
I have so many photographic influences, I could list them forever so I’ll keep it to three. Fabon Moharm ran the Lomo embassy in London and was responsible for designing the crazy events that made up the Lomo Olympics that pushed my photography at the time. I’ve always been a fan of Martin Parr’s work old and new and have had the good fortune to meet him. It turns out he is a really nice chap who is really into supporting the grassroots of the photography community. I’ve also got a great respect for Frank Hurley who was the photographer for Ernest Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914–17). I believe that if it were not for Hurley’s photos of the expedition it would not have been as well known. He did some ground-breaking work under extremely difficult conditions.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO TEACHING?
I actually started teaching because I was asked to teach web design at Buckinghamshire New University which was where I got my degree. After I wrote my first instructional photography book I was asked to teach a photography course at a local Brighton photography studio. Since then I have taught photography all over the UK and little in the US and mainland Europe.
WHO ARE SOME OF THE CLIENTS YOU HAVE WORKED FOR?
I did a pretty fun project shooting a lookbook for Dr Martins on Lomo cameras which was pretty fun, mainly because it they were shot in and around LA and San Francisco. I used to love shooting the trend spotting for Source magazine. I did it for 3 years until they stopped doing a print edition, it was great having to do something regularly as it forced me to be creative. Recently, what I am most proud of is the work I did documenting the construction of the British Airways i360 which included a two and half year time-lapse of the construction.
WHAT/WHEN ARE YOU HAPPIEST SHOOTING?
I like documenting my swims with my friends in Brighton Swimming club. I’ve swam in the sea all year round with no wet suit for the past 14 years and documented it for most of that time. Also, there are rare occasions that you get an ultra-low tide sync with a sunset or sunrise on Brighton beach, it’s a bit cheesy but you get beautiful reflections in the sand of the sky that can look magical. Quite a lot people, even some who live in Brighton, don’t realise on certain low tides there is actually sand on Brighton, it’s not just stones.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE THE USE OF DIGITAL & ANALOGUE PHOTOGRAPHY?
I don’t shoot as much film as I would like to, having a busy work schedule and family life has made it tricky to shoot much film. That said I would like to restart doing my trend spotting which was all shot on film.
HOW DO YOU APPROACH PHOTOGRAPHING A STRANGER?
Approach them with a smile and simply ask if you can take their photo, the worst thing that can happen is they can say no, that’s it. It’s very rare that people reject you. It’s pretty simple but I can appreciate it’s a confidence thing.
WHAT MUSIC DO YOU LISTEN TO WHILE YOU WORK?
It depends what I am doing, if it’s writing I need silence. But musically I love Jungle and old hardcore rave. Every Friday on Rinse FM Uncle Dugs plays old school Jungle / rave music between 11am-2pm, Dugs never usually plays music from beyond the year 1995. I always make sure I have some kind of repetitive task that does not require much brain power when his show is on so I can really get into it. I could listen to the podcast but listening live is so much better it has a really pirate radio vibe.
I’ve always loved Brighton since I first came here. I worked in London for two and half years after university. At the time I used to visit friends in Brighton and towards the end of my time in London I was coming down 3 weekends in a row. At that point I realised it was high time I moved here. In my 40 years of life I’ve only spent 5 and half years inland. I love seaside towns and Brighton is the best.
WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS?
Seeing as it’s the new year, this is what I have got planed for 2018, after that who knows? After the long-term time-lapse project I shot for the i360 I would like to do more time-lapse work. I’ve recently acquired a special time-lapse camera which will enable me to take my time-lapses to the next level. I think this year I will also kick start my trend spotting portraits again as the old editor of source got in touch and asked me to shoot a portrait of Louise O’Mahony, a Brighton fashion designer, she makes über colourful clothes so it will work really well with the way I shoot my portraits. I have also got plans for couple of exhibitions, one in Brighton using some of my swimming work and one in London with my trend spotting photos.