By: Jacob Hales
What do you call a group of Austrian students that stumble upon a second-hand camera store in the middle of the Soviet Union? Lomographers! Wait…what?
Well first, let me explain what Lomography is: Lomography is a spin-off of photography that utilizes cheap, plastic film cameras and a variety of films. The name originates from the camera that the Austrian students bought from the quirky camera store: the Lomo LC-A. Built by the Lomo company in 1984, the LC-A is the acclaimed camera of the lomographic art form. And so, Lomography was born.
Lomo produced motion picture and consumer still cameras until the early 2000s. The company was typically known for their copies of well known Japanese and German cameras, most typically Leica’s. They started making their own cameras in the 1960s, which were known for their cheap plastic parts and unique glass lenses. The company closed its doors in 2003 after over 90 years of being in business due to lack of funds. The Soviet Union funded the company until it collapsed and since then, Lomo had a difficult time producing enough revenue to continue producing photographic equipment. The art is not only limited to low-cost, post-soviet film cameras—some Lomographers use any camera they can get their hands on. Some even use their cell phones and apply filters to give them a vintage, hipster-esque look. This look is also known as the ‘lomo look’, and it’s inching its way into every photo-editing software on the market. The company was revived by Western investors and officially changed its name to Lomography in 2007.
Lomography produces a variety of different films with contrasting colors and a variety of formats. Their most popular film is Lomochrome which is a color film that resembles the colors of Portra (a professional color film sold by Kodak). The company also still produces its flagship camera, The LC-A, as well as a assortment of their own plastic-fantastic contraptions.
Lomographers are not photographers; they are their own breed of innovative individuals with a thirst for imperfect perfection that will feasibly never be quenched. They appreciate the fundamentals of photography and apply them to their own art form—fundamentals such as light and shadow. Composition isn’t important to lomographers either; what matters is the memory created by the photograph. Maybe lomographers know the true meaning of photography? To capture memories and reminisce on the colors captured on a format from a simpler time? The meaning of the art is different to every lomographer. In order to truly understand it, you might just have to try it out for yourself.