What is Lomography?

Posted in Inspiration, Photography, Tips, Web Design • Posted on 8 Comments

Today, the technological advances in the field of photography has grown by leaps and bounds. Cameras today produce beautiful, high-resolution images, automatic settings, high-speed shutter settings, etc. Even post-processing has improved immensely, thanks to computers and Photoshop. You can see your picture immediately, so you have the option to delete it or to keep it, an option not available with earlier film cameras. Because of this, everyone can now be a photographer. In fact, it’s almost like spoon-feeding. The question is, ‘Where is the challenge in that?’


I once read from a book ‘Manual cameras are romantic, digital cameras are democratic’. To me it evoked the romanticism of old vintage film and polaroid cameras. Off colors, wrong focus, vignetting effect–these is what traditional photography defines as a ‘bad picture’, but for lomographers, that isn’t the case. They use these ‘wrong’ settings to their advantage, creating one of a kind photos.

What is Lomography?

If you haven’t heard of lomography, it’s time to educate yourself. Whether you are a seasoned photographer or a self-confessed newbie, everyone can be a lomographer.

Image taken by Ethermoon

Lomography is a pretty recent type of photography invented by the Lomographic Society, founded in the early nineties in Austria. The founders first experimented with Lomo LC-A, a cheap Russian toy camera. They were taken by the unique, high contrast photos with vignettes and soft focus. The original lomo cameras are the LC-A, Holga, Fisheye, Colorsplash and Supersampler (more on that later…)

According to Lomography.com, There are 10 rules that define ‘lomography':

  1. Take your camera everywhere you go.
  2. Use it any time – day and night.
  3. Lomography is not an interference in your life, but a part of it.
  4. Try to shoot from the hip.
  5. Approach the objects of your Lomographic desire as close as possible.
  6. Don’t think.
  7. Be fast.
  8. You don’t have to know beforehand what you captured on film.
  9. Afterwards either.
  10. Don’t worry about any rules!

Lomography is considered an art movement; as there are now several stores, galleries, groups, competitions and embassies around the world aiming to spread and support the art. The Lomographic Society International headquarters is in Vienna, Austria, but it maintains a website where lomographers can purchase their cameras, interact with fellow photographers, share their photos and techniques, etc.

Taken by scarecrowindisguise with a Lomography Diana F+ loaded with Lomography X-Pro Slide

Pros and Cons of Lomography

Ironically, the disadvantages of lomography can be used as an advantage, and vice versa.

  • Light Leaks

Depending on who you’re talking to, light leaks can be a good thing or a bad thing. Some lomographers love their light leaks, while some despise them so much they tape the heck out of their camera.

Photo from http://www.danedwardsphoto.com/

On the plus side, light leaks do create trippy effects. They can transform mundane photos into otherworldly captures.

Image by Angelwulf, taken with her LC-A camera and Kodak Colorplus film

But then again, they can also ruin the photo. Examples are light leaks that get in the way of the subject, or even entirely ruin the whole photo.

Massive light leaks (Taken by Superlighter using a Braun Paxina and Agfa Portrait 160 film)

  • Unpredictability

This is what makes lomography so fun–and so frustrating. Lomo cameras are highly unpredictable–like it has a life of its own. That’s why most of the beautiful lomo photos are ‘happy accidents’. So if both a professional and a beginner in photography takes up lomography for the first time, both are likely equal in the field of lomography. Coming up with beautiful photos taken by toy cameras require you to understand your camera, develop a friendship with them and this understanding will take some time and practice.

Double Exposure shot taken by kylewis using the Original Diana 151 with expired film

  • Plastic lens

The lens is made out of plastic and not glass, so the lens is largely responsible for the quality of the images: vignettes, saturated colors, off hues, and the like.

Taken by kernow_and_cambria with a Lomo LC-A+ with Fuji Sensia 400

Taken by mephisto19 with a Lomo LC-A+ loaded with Kodak EBX

The best way to learn about working with available light is by trying a lomography camera. These toy cameras work best in broad daylight, where it’s sunny and warm. Most lomography cameras work poorly indoors, cloudy or at night, except if you switch it to bulb mode or if you have flash.

Is Lomography worth it’s hype?

The Lomographic Society is criticized for their overpricing, one point saying that the company sells their cameras, film and equipment for far more than it’s worth. The LC-A is sold for aroud US $30, when the first lomographers bought it, but now they sell for around US $250. The original Diana+ was sold for only US $1, but the new, updated version by Lomography sells for US $50.

Aside from Lomography, there are now recent companies that now sell toy cameras, often much, much, cheaper, like the Four Corner Store.

Love it or hate it, lomography is fun and addicting, and I still buy the cameras and the expensive film even if i know I’m being ripped off. So even if it’s an overpricing venture, they’re still making good money out of it.

How to Get Started?

1. Choose your weapon

There are many different kinds of lomography cameras! How do you choose which one is best for you?

Different cameras have different uses, features and effects. For example, the Fisheye takes a 170-degree view around you, creating an almost circular image. The Supersampler takes four photos within 2 seconds or in 0.2 seconds. Colorsplash has some really colorful flashes, and the Rocket Sprocket takes wide shots with the sprockets in them.

Different effects of different lomography cameras

Do your research and determine the type of photos you want to achieve.

2. Choose your film

Also note that some lomo cameras use different kinds of film. The Holga and the Diana F+ uses 120 film, which has to be done in a film specialty store. If you don’t want the additional expenses and hassle, opt for 35mm film cameras (Fisheye, Diana Mini, Superheadz, etc.) where you can have it developed in any drug store. There are also 110 film cameras, a smaller and even rarer film (thus harder to develop).

For beginners, we recommend you choose the regular 35mm film first. Don’t buy expensive film just yet–if it’s your first time, expect to fail miserably. If your rolls come out with nothing, don’t give up just yet–it’s part of the learning process.

Thus, buy cheap rolls of film first to use as your test roll. 400 iso film is great for most conditions. You can have your rolls cross-processed to give that saturated, high contrast result popular in lomography.

4. Experiment with different effects!

Long exposures, double exposures, red scaling, these are just some things you can do to create funky pictures with your lomo camera.

Red scale effect. Image by Rachel Arandilla with Holga 120CFN using expired Solid Gold Film

Multiple exposures are a fun effect in lomography you can try. This feature is often not available in regular film cameras and film SLRs, since the shutter and forward button is locked together, requiring you to move forward to take the next shot.

Taken by doubleswithlomodirk using Kodak EIR Infrared

Long Exposure shot. Taken by mightymouse with a Lomo LCA+ RL loaded with Kodak EBX (35mm, 100 iso) film

Try to have fun and play with the ‘rules of lomography’ or break them. Instead of loading the 120 film into your Holga, improvise by using a 35mm instead. There are unlimited options.

5. Finally, meet and share with fellow lomographers

So you’ve already learned a thing or two about photography. You finally got a few brag-worthy shots. Many lomographers enjoy creating lomo walls. These lomo walls look really amazing and psychedelic, all thanks to the funky colors lomography shots create.

Rainbow Lomo Wall, Image from Peek London

You can also share your lomo shots online! You can register and log in at Lomography, where you can upload and share your lomo shots. Other websites where you can share your lomo shots are Flickr or Deviantart.

You can also check out other people’s shots, so you can be inspired by them. Read blogs to learn new lomo techniques, or check the latest news to launches of new lomo cameras, film and other products. There are also online competitions available where you can win prizes.

52 Written ArticlesWebsite

Rachel Arandilla is a curious subject -- she appreciates things that are quirky & clever. She loves spontaneity and adventure. She is a carefree soul, has a deep love for travel, culture and languages. And she's beginning to wonder she keeps on referring to herself in third person perspective.

8 Comments Best Comments First
  • Grim

    Saturday, November 5th, 2011 07:00

    5

    This is a good post. but Film SLR cameras can do double exposure as well. It usually requires that you hold a button or flip a switch while you wind, but it is almost always possible. It was a technique used in Fine photography as well. Lomo is great though, film is always about the process and the waiting for the pictures to be developed, and lomo takes it that much further.

    +1
  • Chris

    Wednesday, September 7th, 2011 16:54

    1

    Do you have a personal favorite camera to do things like this?

    0
    • Tila

      Tuesday, September 27th, 2011 22:22

      4

      yes, I love mey holga, and diana f+, they are the best!

      0
    • Rachel Arandilla

      Thursday, September 8th, 2011 04:25

      2

      the father of all lomo cameras, of course—the LC-A. the Russian camera that started it all. :)

      0
  • Matt

    Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 22:16

    3

    Strange how it says be fast, don’t think, shoot from the hip. Yet their website where they share techniques. Wouldn’t that require you thinking about the subject matter and the photograph you are about to take?

    0
  • Toddo

    Tuesday, February 14th, 2012 16:08

    6

    Looks like a lot of fun… I think there are a lot of aspiring lomographers out there, they just don’t know it yet. Tons of people walking around with their cell phone cameras and instagram apps that would also enjoy lomography. To me, while I can appreciate the romanticism of it all, I’m still addicted to my digital tools.

    0
  • gbrown

    Monday, February 27th, 2012 16:47

    8

    how do you get the crazy colors? i use my diana f+ with the 35 mm adapter and regular 35mm film from a drug store. I can’t find anywhere local that will cross process and have to get the pictures developed at a drug store. How can i get the crazy colors i want in my lomography??!

    0
  • Cyan

    Sunday, February 26th, 2012 21:23

    7

    Very instructive – but how do they then get the pictures onto the web? Presumably have prints made then copy them digitally…….

    0
  • gbrown

    Monday, February 27th, 2012 16:47

    8

    how do you get the crazy colors? i use my diana f+ with the 35 mm adapter and regular 35mm film from a drug store. I can’t find anywhere local that will cross process and have to get the pictures developed at a drug store. How can i get the crazy colors i want in my lomography??!

    0
  • Cyan

    Sunday, February 26th, 2012 21:23

    7

    Very instructive – but how do they then get the pictures onto the web? Presumably have prints made then copy them digitally…….

    0
  • Toddo

    Tuesday, February 14th, 2012 16:08

    6

    Looks like a lot of fun… I think there are a lot of aspiring lomographers out there, they just don’t know it yet. Tons of people walking around with their cell phone cameras and instagram apps that would also enjoy lomography. To me, while I can appreciate the romanticism of it all, I’m still addicted to my digital tools.

    0
  • Grim

    Saturday, November 5th, 2011 07:00

    5

    This is a good post. but Film SLR cameras can do double exposure as well. It usually requires that you hold a button or flip a switch while you wind, but it is almost always possible. It was a technique used in Fine photography as well. Lomo is great though, film is always about the process and the waiting for the pictures to be developed, and lomo takes it that much further.

    +1
  • Matt

    Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 22:16

    3

    Strange how it says be fast, don’t think, shoot from the hip. Yet their website where they share techniques. Wouldn’t that require you thinking about the subject matter and the photograph you are about to take?

    0
  • Chris

    Wednesday, September 7th, 2011 16:54

    1

    Do you have a personal favorite camera to do things like this?

    0
    • Rachel Arandilla

      Thursday, September 8th, 2011 04:25

      2

      the father of all lomo cameras, of course—the LC-A. the Russian camera that started it all. :)

      0
    • Tila

      Tuesday, September 27th, 2011 22:22

      4

      yes, I love mey holga, and diana f+, they are the best!

      0

Comments are closed.

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