A year and a half ago, a friend asked me if I considered myself a Lomographer. I wrote a brief piece for a photography website, but it never saw publication. As now this is a photography website, here it is.
Am I a Lomographer?
When the question was presented to me, I had to research the subject. I had never heard of Lomography until recently, and the subject only arose when I began to explore Holga and LOMO cameras.
I am a fan of old technology. I drive a 1974 Beetle, write with a fountain pen, and shave with a double-edged safety razor. Each provides an experience completely different from its modern replacement. I may cut myself with the razor, but the shave is like nothing I can achieve with Gillette’s latest quintuple-bladed wonder. The fountain pen may leak, but it gives me an infinite choice of inks, and I don’t have to throw it away when it runs out. The VW, well, it’s a Beetle. ‘Nuff said.
Film is similar. Getting the shot may take a bit more work and entail the risk of failure, but the finished product is worth the effort and won’t be lost in my next computer crash. It also won’t become obsolete with the next software update.
So am I a Lomographer?
I recently rediscovered the joys of black & white photography in my old Nikon FM2. A roll of Tmax led me to Old School Photo Lab; the Analog Ambassador program led me to Holgas. Medium format, TLRs, and a trio of old Voigtlanders followed.
I’m experimenting, surely, but it’s experimentation with a purpose. I’ve discovered whole new areas of the craft to learn and master. In recent weeks I’ve shot my first roll film, my first star trails, my first sprockets, and my first TLR. I bought a roll of Fujichrome today so I can try X-pro, and I’ve been wondering how hard it would be to spool my own redscale. I’m having a ball.
Does this make me a Lomographer?
I am not so sure. I’m hung up on the motto, “Don’t think, just shoot.” I find it to be the antithesis of my photographic philosophy. With each shot I am trying to achieve an effect. I may succeed or fail, and some of my failures may look great, but I am not shooting randomly.
“Don’t think, just shoot” is what I see the masses doing with their iPhones and Coolpixes. My young daughter has hundreds of digital photos, most taken with no thought and of no value to anyone including her. She has been fascinated by my new obsession with film cameras and is learning to handle the Holga 120N herself. A 12 shot limit has made her think each time she presses the shutter release. I expect she’ll be wielding the FM2 soon enough.
Am I a Lomographer? I have no doubt Lomography is good for our hobby. More film users means more film for everyone and better publicity for all of us. Some of the Lomography work I have seen is stunning.
But am I a Lomographer?
The article and my thoughts broke down at this point. I wrote two versions with opposite conclusions. Since then my camera collection has expanded greatly, and I now own a few Lomography cameras. First up is the original Russian LOMO LC-A. . .