Surveying the pictures and cameras from the Lomographic scene
New York’s Lomography Gallery Store, 41 West 8th Street. Tel: (212) 529 4353
Lomographic Society International
Analogue technology is on life support. It’s been teetering on the edge of extinction for two decades, as music, photography and TV succumb to all things digital. But tucked away in far-reaching corners of the world are lomographers — analogue anarchists who take photographs the old-fashion way: with 35mm film and quaint cameras distributed by the Lomographic Society International, an Austrian outfit founded by Matthias Fiegl and Wolfgang Stranzinger in the early 1990s.
The pair brokered an exclusive contract with Russia’s Leningrad Optics and Mechanics Association, a firm that has been manufacturing these defiantly retro devices since the 1930s.
While the rest of the photographic industry espouses the virtues of more megapixels and larger touch-screens, lomographers enthuse about their cameras’ blurry, over-saturated images. The Lomographic Society even has “The 10 Golden Rules Of Lomography” — tongue-in-cheek guidelines that help budding David Baileys achieve these random results. They include “take your camera everywhere” (No. 1), “use it any time — day and night” (No. 2) and “don’t worry about any rules” (No. 10).
Lomographers enthuse about their cameras’ blurry, over-saturated images
However, the finished products aren’t what you’d expect. There’s a warmth and playfulness in the pictures, while their diffused colours and ad-hoc compositions only add to their appeal. The Lomography motto of “don’t think, just shoot” has spawned an enthralling body of work assembled by enthusiasts who enjoy capturing “happy accidents”.
But the world of Lomography is not without its contradictions. The analogue scene thrives in the most digital of all mediums: the internet. Aside from exhibitions, the best places to find these imaginative images are on sites like Flickr and the Lomographic Society International. In another paradox, high-tech photographers who want to mimic the quirky output of Lomo cameras can do so using desktop apps such as GIMP or Photoshop. It’s a curious case of digital life imitating analogue art.
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Jerad Sloan’s mock advert on “The 10 Golden Rules Of Lomography”