Analog Instagram: A Brief History of the Lomography Movement

Stephen Dowling of BBC News has an interesting piece that tells the story of the Lomography movement and how it may be instrumental in saving film photography:

In 1991, a group of Austrian art students on a trip to nearby Prague found […] a curious little camera […] it produced pictures unlike anything they had seen before. The little camera was the Lomo LC-A – Lomo Kompact Automat, built in Soviet-era Leningrad by Leningrad Optics and Mechanics Association (Lomo) – and very soon a craze was born. It was an analogue Instagram in the days before digital photography.

This Lomo craze may have ended up helping save film photography from an untimely end. In 1992, the students set up Lomographic Society International, exhibiting shots taken on unwanted Lomos they had bought up from all over Eastern Europe. Then, in the mid-90s, having exhausted the supply of left-over Lomos gathering dust in Budapest, Bucharest or East Berlin, they went to the camera’s manufacturers […] and persuaded them to restart production. The negotiations were helped along by the support of the city’s then deputy mayor, Vladimir Putin.

According to Dowling, there is speculation that Lomography is a potential suitor for Kodak’s film business that is currently for sale.

Did the Lomo camera save film photography? [BBC News]

Thanks for sending in the tip, Phil!

Image credit: LOMO LC-A e pensieri by hummyhummy

  • JosephRT

    That is interesting, especially the tidbit about Vladimir Putin, because I also know that Dmitri Medvedev has taking a liking to instagram

  • Jake

    I have to say, for all the hate that Lomography and analogue photographers get with their “hipster” or “artsy-fartsy” reputation, these guys might well make up half the sales of film and analogue photo gear, keeping the market open for anyone, be they more down-to-earth folks or traditionalist professionals, who wants to keep with the old ways without paying $30 for a roll of old film on Ebay.

  • Ralph Hightower

    Okay, I’ve violated these rules:
    1) Take your camera everywhere you go
    I haven’t taken a camera everywhere with me. But when I had a temporary job in Cedar Rapids, I learned my “drive-by shooting” technique on a disposable Kodak film camera. Once, when changing terminals at O’Hare, I captured the light tube display overhead on a Kodak disposable.2)
    Ater that, I put the lens focus on infinity of my Canon FD 50mm f1.8 and set my Canon A-1 on [P], framed and shot while driving. My Motor Drive MA advanced the film to the next frame.
    But when there’s an event that I want to get, I’ll bring my 35mm film camera.
    3) Lomography is not an interference in your life, but part of it.
    Not! I haven’t taken a picture of me gassing up my car. That is lame!
    9) Afterwards either
    Right now for 2012, I’m shoot B&W only. Although I do get sepia or blue/grey tints with C-41 B&W film.

    I’ve used these rules:
    2) Use it any time – day and night
    I have shot at sunrise, sunset, mid-day sun, pre-dawn hours when I wish I had 3200 speed film.
    4) Try the shot from the hip
    I haven’t done that, but I’ve shot from overhead, so I reckon that counts.
    6) Don’t think. (William Firebrace)
    Sometimes I do, sometimes, I don’t.
    7) Be fast
    I wish that I had 3200 speed film for the final Space Shuttle landing in the pre-dawn hours. Instead, I exposed C-41 B&W ISO 400 at 1600 and it was too slow. Atlantis was a blur.
    8) You don’t have to know beforehand what you captured on film.
    That’s true. Although my wife and I were at a rock concert (Trans Siberian Orchestra: Beethoven’s Last Night). I used Kodak TMAX 3200 pushed to 12800. At one point during the concert, my wife said “You nailed it” during one of the sustained laser displays. I wouldn’t know it until I got the film back.
    10) Don’t worry about any rules
    Okay, I shoot for myself, but if you want the admiration of your peers, you need to know what the “rules of photography” are, when the rules make for a better photo and when to break the rules.

  • V. Coelho

    I really can’t understand how so called pro photographers can hate film photography or lomography.