What is LOMO?

[I wrote this in reply to a Discussion topic some LOMO-newby had started in the LOMO UK flickr group. I liked it so much I thought I might as well slap it up here too. Where, if I'm lucky, more than one person might read it, possibly - or if not that I'll be able to find it again. Hah.]

There's been no one more active in the field of confusing the issue over all this than the lomography.com people themselves. 'Why's that' you ask? Because lomography.com is first and foremost all about marketing - it was invented as a project - not by photographers - but by marketing students putting together a business for their final year in their degree course. So of course a few years down the line, after the last real LCA camera came off the production line, they're now selling old dead stock Russian cameras, new plastic cameras from china, and old fuji instant cameras, etc. etc. And a lot of people are still lapping it up. It suits lomography.com very well to blur the lines and to keep confusing things That's good marketing right there. After all they've a lot of over-priced cameras and old expired film stock to sell.

(My problem with all that is that I'm just plain allergic to spending more money than I have to - just because of flashy advertising. But that's just me.)

So to help things along - I'd like to try and delineate a few things...

there are the LOMO cameras - original old Russian cameras - the best of these by far is still the original LCA.

then there are the 10 LOMOGRAPHY (non) Rules - which just amounts to taking a lot of pictures - wasting rolls and rolls of film without thinking too much and hoping you'll get one or two good pictures out of it every now and then. Theoretically speaking you don't need a Russian camera to follow these rules. You're just less likely get the vignetting and over-saturated colours.

then there's those fun plastic cameras from China - (which by rights should be dirt cheap - but get the hefty LOMOgraphy.com tax slapped on them - after all, that marketing has to be paid for out of somewhere.) But let's face it - they're just gimmicks. They're not real LOMOs though - they're toy cameras and they already have a whole school all of their own to be in.

then there's the faux-lomo - which is a digital photo put through photoshop (or whatever) to give it the 'LOMO look'. As far as I'm concerned that's the one which totally misses the point - since I'd say a big part of Lomography is the spirit of serendipity - of being surprised by what comes out of the camera. If you're adding filters - well there's that serendipity killed stone dead right there. Why stop at the LOMO look? Go to town - you can make it look like a watercolour, a drawing, you can stretch and warp it - there's all those filters - just throw them all on there. Wheeeeee!

So after all that, I have to come clean and say for me personally a proper honest-to-goodness LOMOgraph has to be a photograph that's been taken by a LCA - follows the 10 rules - and surprises the photographer as much as anyone. Otherwise it's a faux-lomo, or a toy camera photo, or a medium format photo, or a photo-photo - but it sure ain't a LOMOgraph.

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