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
The mid-1800s was a busy time for photographic firsts. In 1838, daguerreotype inventor Louis Daguerre captured the first ever photo of a human being. One year later, in 1839, photograph pioneer Robert Cornelius stepped in front of his camera and created the first self-portrait. 1840 held yet another interesting development: the first hoax photograph.
Photographs are usually captured through viewfinders, not of viewfinders, but photographer Meggan Gould has a photo project featuring the latter. Aptly named “Viewfinders,” Gould’s series turns old analog camera viewfinders into the subject of photos, documenting both the variety of viewfinder designs and the inevitable wear and tear that results from decades of use.
During the Iranian election protests back in 2009, a 26-year-old woman named Nedā Āghā-Soltān (above right) was shot and killed while standing around and observing protestors. After footage of her death went viral online — Time says it’s likely the “most widely witnessed death in human history” — Neda’s portrait became the face of the movement, as countless protestors around the world held large prints overlaid with statements like, “Neda did not die in vain.” The problem is, one of the main photos used wasn’t actually of Neda.
In 1984, photographer Steve McCurry shot a portrait titled “Afghan Girl” that would become the defining image of his career and one of the most famous National Geographic covers ever published. In 2002, McCurry was able to locate the subject, Sharbat Gula, and learn her story. National Geographic then published a fascinating piece telling the story of the photo, the search, and the subject:
The reunion between the woman with green eyes and the photographer was quiet. On the subject of married women, cultural tradition is strict. She must not look—and certainly must not smile—at a man who is not her husband. She did not smile at McCurry. Her expression, he said, was flat. She cannot understand how her picture has touched so many. She does not know the power of those eyes.
Some interesting facts: McCurry shot the photo on Kodachrome using a Nikon FM2 and Nikkor 105mm f/2.5. Gula’s identity was confirmed by comparing her iris to the Afghan Girl’s. Although she had never seen her famous portrait, Gula distinctly remembers sitting for the photo — it was one of the only times in her life that she had a photo taken of her.
A Life Revealed [National Geographic Magazine]
Image credits: Photographs by Steve McCurry/National Geographic
Just in case this question ever comes up while you’re playing the world’s hardest game of photography trivia, what you see above is the first photograph ever snapped in Finland. Mats Söderlund of The Crop Factor writes,
This may look like something captured with Instagram on the newest smartphone, but it’s something a bit different indeed. It is the first photograph taken in Finland, ever. The photo dates back to the year 1842, and celebrated its 170th birthday last Saturday, November 3rd. The photograph is a daguerreotype [...] It was taken in Turku, which ironically also is Finland’s oldest city [...] The photographer was Henrik Cajander, a doctor by trade who lived on the very street the photo was taken [...]
As you can see the photo isn’t exactly perfect, technically or aesthetically speaking, but it is a big part of the history in Finnish photography. Some might call the crooked composition an amateur mistake, but the photographer was, in the realest sense, an amateur at what he was doing.
Wouldn’t it be interesting if there were a gallery of the first photographs shot in each country on Earth?
First Photograph Taken in Finland Turns 170 [The Crop Factor via Reddit]
“Say cheese.” It’s an expression that has become so much a part of our culture that everyone understands it to simply mean, “Smile,” rather than a command to actually utter the word “cheese.” For many people, smiling and posing for casual snapshots go hand-in-hand, but why do people smile for pictures, and when did this practice begin? After all, if you browse portrait photos created in the early days of photography — or even half a century ago — you’ll find the subjects wearing stoic, humorless expressions on their faces.
Want to illuminate an entire football field for a photo shoot, but can’t find enough friends who will let you borrow their external flashes? Have deep pockets? Here’s a “lighting accessory” you might want to add to your camera bag: the light truck.
In 2008, I had this kooky idea to take my then 4-year-old son out to an abandoned road and throw him into the air, since it seemed most fathers like to do this with their kids. There was this long, abandoned road near my house, so we set up there. After getting my Nikon D200, self-timer, and tripod ready, my son decided that he didn’t want to be thrown into the air, so I just held him up instead. I then took another photo of myself looking up with my arms extended.
Photographer Michael Wolf began his career as a photojournalist in Hong Kong working for a German magazine. In the early 2000s, he turned to non-editorial photography with an unusual project called Bastard Chairs. Wolf had noticed that all over China, there were makeshift chairs that had been put together using whatever materials the owners could get their hands on. He began documenting these strange pieces of furniture, showing the creative ideas people in China had for sitting down.