Today, I want to talk about what made me start on film photography: lomography.
I want to use the definition of lomography that comes from the website of the Lomography Society International:
“Lomography is a globally-active organization dedicated to analogue, experimental and creative photography. With millions of followers and friends across the world, the concept of Lomography encompasses an interactive, vivid and sometimes even blurred and crazy way of life. Through our constantly expanding collection of innovative cameras, instant products, films, lenses & photographic accessories, we promote photography as an inventive approach to communicate, absorb and capture the world. (→)”
This movement was born in the 1990s when a group of Austrian students found an old LOMO LC-A (see my page about this camera here) and used it to take some pictures, without knowing what the end result would be. Once they developed the films, they found out that the pictures had an unique lo-fi charme.
Mainly, lomographers tend to prefer certain cameras, like the ones shown below, but lomography is certainly not limited to only these sacred beasts (all pictures taken from Lomography official website).
Diana F+ with Flash
What makes a photograph lomographic?
“Don’t think, just shoot.”
This is the motto of the movement, the essence of every lomograph. In each picture there is a mixture of spontaneity, lo-fi, color, randomness. There is no fix technique into taking a lomograph, often there is no technique at all.
Each picture is unique, there may or may not be vignetting, extreme color (de)saturation, color shift, light leaks, light trails, blurriness… every possible defect that can be present in a normal photograph, is considered a virtue in a lomograph. It can be random or forcibly added to the picture by the lomographer.
To express this concept further, I’d like to copy the 10 golden rules of the movement (taken from the LSI website).
- Take your camera everywhere you go
- Use it at any time – day and night
- Lomography is not an interference in your life, but a part of it
- Try the shot from the hip
- Approach the objects of your lomographic desire as close as possible
- Don’t think
- Be fast
- You don’t have to know beforehand what you captured on film
- Afterwards either
- Don’t worry about any rules
These above are some examples of lomographs taken by me. I used my Diana F+ camera. More on my LomoHome.
Are you a lomographer? Why are you still using film?
Depends on my mood, and the camera I am using. Overall, I like both traditional photography and lomography and like to play with both. For some, photography is trying to reproduce reality in the most accurate way possible. For others, it is a way to capture moments and emotions, a way of self-expression. I think film is the best medium for the kind of photography I do and like, and the reason behind my shooting changes according to what picture you are looking at. Simple as that.
I like film because it adds a challenge, choosing the right medium for the right photo, or doing the best you can, for the best result you want, with what you have loaded in your camera. Unlike digital, you can’t switch colour to B&W or change ISO sensitivity on the fly, it all depends on what you have loaded.
I find that having a limited number of exposures per roll gives more meaning to what you do, what you choose to shoot and how you do it.
But the main reason of all, is that waiting for a film to be processed and see the pictures is like waiting for Christmas, every time. And when some pictures don’t come out as you wanted (or do not come out at all – happens!), the delusion gives quickly way to a new excitement and enthusiasm and will to continue shooting regardless.
Can I be a lomographer/film shooter?
Naturally. You need three things:
- A camera
- A roll of film
- a bit of creativity
The best format with which to begin with is 35mm (aka 135). Every photo lab can process colour 135 and you can find films easily. Most common films you can find are AgfaPhoto Vista (200 and 400 ISO), Kodak ColorPlus 200 and Fujifilm Superia Xtra 400. Black and white shooting is also possible, but not all labs process B&W film. Ilford’s FP4 and HP5 are easily found in photography shops, sometimes with the XP2 (which is processed C-41 – colour – but produces a black and white image, still).
Getting a film camera is the next thing. Chances are you already got one lying around somewhere. Make sure there are some batteries in it if it’s an automatic model, load the film and start shooting. If you don’t you can find some in thrift shops or eBay quite easily. Even a point and shoot is sufficient to begin. Have a look at this, this, this one and this.
If you want to start even quicker, grab a disposable camera. They are still quite common (used especially in parties and weddings), or you can spend a little more and try your lomographic skills with Lomography’s own series of disposable cameras (they have a built in flash with colour filters).