Lomography is an analog camera movement and community, and is also a commercial trademark of Lomographische AG. The Lomographic Society International was founded in 1992 by a group of Viennese students after they discovered the Lomo LC-A camera created by LOMO PLC of Saint Petersburg, Russia. Since 1995, Lomography has been the sole distributor of that camera outside of the former Soviet Union, and has since moved into producing their own range of analog cameras, and other imports such as the Diana camera.
The Lomographic Society was formed in 1992 and maintains a strong community following through the internet. They have worked with Light for the World to raise money for vision care in Kenya, and with the International Red Cross for famine relief in East Africa. The online community allows the sharing of images and techniques, and celebrity lomographic camera owners include Elijah Wood, Neil Gaiman and The White Stripes.
Lomography is a community of Lomographic photographers who advocate creative and experimental film photography. The name is inspired by the former state-run optics manufacturer LOMO PLC of Saint Petersburg, Russia that created and produced the 35 mm LOMO LC-A Compact Automat camera, now the centerpiece of the Lomographic movement. This camera was loosely based upon the Cosina CX-1 and introduced in the early 1980s.
Lomography also represents the commercial trademark of Lomographische AG, an Austrian company that produces cameras and other tools that cater to the needs of this photographic movement. The society is headquartered in Vienna, Austria, where most of its events are organised.
In 1991, a group of Viennese students discovered the Lomo LC-A and were "charmed by the unique, colorful, and sometimes blurry" images that the camera produced. The Lomographic Society International was subsequently founded in 1992. After a series of international art exhibitions culminating in exhibitions in New York City and Moscow, Lomography signed an exclusive distribution agreement with LOMO PLC in 1995 — thereby becoming the sole distributor of all Lomo LC-A cameras outside of the former Soviet Union. The new company reached an agreement with the deputy mayor of St Petersburg, the future Russian Prime Minister and President, Vladimir Putin, to receive a tax break in order to keep the LOMO factory in the city open.
Since the introduction of the original Lomo LC-A, Lomography has produced and marketed an entire line of their own analog cameras. Most Lomographic cameras claim to produce photographic effects such as "oversaturated colors (which can never be achieved with lo-fi lenses) , extreme optical distortions, rainbow-colored subjects, off-kilter exposure, blurring and alternative film processing (obviously available with any film camera) , all things usually considered bad in photography." For example, the Lomography Fisheye camera features a built-in wideangle lens, and shoots fisheye-distorted photos. In 2005, production of the original Lomo LC-A was discontinued. Its replacement, the Lomo LC-A+, was introduced in 2006. The new camera, made in China rather than Russia, featured the original Russian lens manufactured by LOMO PLC. This changed as of mid-2007 with the lens now made in China as well.
Similar to Eastman Kodak's concept of the "Kodak moment", the philosophy behind Lomography is summarized in its motto, "Don’t Think, Just Shoot." This motto is accompanied by The Ten Golden Rules which are supposed to encourage spontaneity, odd angles, and taking photos anywhere, while minimizing considerations of formal technique. Typical Lomography cameras are deliberately low-fidelity and constructed to make sure their mechanics are not too technical. Some cameras make use of multiple lenses and rainbow-colored flashes, or exhibit extreme optical distortions and even light leaks. In November 2012, the Lomographic Society International celebrated its 20th anniversary. The LC-A+ camera was re-released as a special edition and the online magazine section ran articles about some of the best lomographic shots of the last 20 years. In addition to that, a microsite was set up, highlighting some of the company's most well-known releases and stunts.
Models and techniques
Current models marketed by Lomographische AG include Lomo LC-A+, Diana F+, Spinner 360°, Sprocket Rocket, Actionsampler, Pop-9, Oktomat, Fisheye, Fisheye2, Colorsplash, Colorsplash Flash, SuperSampler. New releases include La Sardina cameras, a line of wide-angle cameras inspired by vintage sardine cans, and the LomoKino, a 35mm analog movie camera and the Konstruktor, a DIY SLR camera. The company resells Russian dead stock cameras and is also producing and selling several kinds of film.
Lomography’s website showcases many high-contrast photographs – with unusual saturation and color – that were created using the technique called cross processing in which film intended for developing in slide chemistry (E-6) is processed in photographic negative chemistry (C-41), and vice versa. This technique can be employed with any film camera and can be somewhat mimicked with photo-editing software such as GIMP or Photoshop. However the use of digital manipulation to create this effect goes somewhat against the principles of Lomography.
The Lomographic Society International provides Lomographers with Lomography Gallery Stores and "embassies" dedicated to the growth, support and public exposure of the analogue lifestyle. Lomographers from all over the world interact through social events such as exhibits and educational workshops. Gallery Stores not only provide places for Lomographers to socialise, but also encourage public enthusiasm and awareness.
An example of the society's cultural events showcasing Lomographers' talents is the Lomokikuyu competition, which raises money for eye surgeries and vision care in Kenya, in partnership with Viennese vision aid organisation Light for the World. The project has since been updated and donations now also go to the International Red Cross to help fight the famine in East Africa. More recently, portion of the sales from Japan Golden Week Edition cameras were donated to the Red Cross as relief to the victims of the March 2011 tsunami. The organisation also organises the Lomography World Congress, an international conference of practitioners held in varying host cities.
They maintain a Web-based Lomography magazine, which provides a photo archive storage to showcase the global community’s works. Articles track trends and ideas about new fun methods to photograph. Community members can blog their own tutorials to share their discoveries, fostering enthusiasm with the Lomographic art. Besides fans who are community members, Lomo Amigos, or friends of Lomography, are invited to contribute to the magazine and are often celebrities who enjoy using Lomography cameras. They include Elijah Wood, Neil Gaiman, and The White Stripes. The site also celebrates the work of Lomographers with online exhibits and competitions.
A 1988 LOMO LC-A camera
Fisheye-lens photo of Wakayama Castle
The view of buildings in Downtown Los Angeles through the Fisheye 2 camera.
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