What is Lomography?

To start off, let me just apologize for the rather long delay. I have had a problems with my account so that held me back a bit. I promised you that I would post this in my post "8 Effects Every Photographer Should Know About". But anyway, here is the much anticipated post about Lomography.

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?’

preview large lomography

It was was once stated in a book ‘Manual cameras are romantic, digital cameras are democratic’. 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.

rocket sprocket film lomography art

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.

lomo camera film analog love

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’:

- Take your camera everywhere you go.
- Use it any time – day and night.
- Lomography is not an interference in your life, but a part of it.
- Try to shoot 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!

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.

lomo camera effect diana f slide film

Pros and Cons of Lomography

Oddly enough, 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.

taped 570x427 - what is lomography?

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

858f6e5c4142151368bb94a25bc42ac95d50c6 - what is lomography?

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 leak lomo camera

* 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.

happy accidents double exposure lomography

* 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.

lomography film use

lomo camera crossprocess

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 its 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 you might end up still buying the cameras and the expensive film even if you know you're 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?

diana camera lomo camera

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.

lomography effects

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

lomo cameras different features effects photography

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, a recommendation is that 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 lomography

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.

fun lomography rules

long exposure lomography

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

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.

You might be interested


Reply Attach
  • 4

    +3 and favorited (both of your articles).

    Maybe when we'll have photography category on the site we could make sharenator lomo wall. That would be awesome.

    • Paul
    • April 24, 2012, 3:16 am
    Thanks for the love, Paul! I think a Lomo-Wall would be a beautiful addition to Sharenator.
    - CallMeGoogle April 25, 2012, 12:37 am
  • 2

    wait, woah woah woah, what is meant by 'digital cameras are democratic'? what? i understand romantic forms of art, but how the heck can photographs be democratic?

    Maybe, he meant that digital usually offer some sort of filter option, where as something analog wont and the camera or the film would have to be altered to get the same affect as just pressing a button.
    - Turtlestlker April 24, 2012, 7:49 pm
  • 2

    since you posted this i decided i couldnt wait any longer and researched it myself its truly an amazing concept and my girlfriend also purchased a diane F+ i believe but has yet to buy the film..needless to say ill be using it more than her haha +3 and favourited. :)

    Sweet! I can't wait to see what you come up with!
    - CallMeGoogle April 26, 2012, 5:36 pm
  • 1

    sounds fun im going to try it

    Sweet! Make a post with what you come up with!
    - CallMeGoogle April 25, 2012, 12:39 am
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