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lomography

noun [uncountable]

a creative, experimental form of photography using film and an analogue camera

lomographic

adjective

lomographer

noun [countable]

'Taking cues from lomography – the growing analogue camera movement – the device has no viewfinder or screen to view photos'

Wales Online 2nd April 2013

'Lomographer Tom Welland shares his best shots … Tom Welland uses a variety of Lomo and Russian cameras to make his photographs.'

The Guardian 29th December 2011

'In contrast to digital photography, Lomographic photographers embrace the optical distortions, light leaks and low-fidelity of the images they produce.'

WEHOville 23rd March 2013

Are you old enough to remember the days when you purchased a 'roll' of film, loaded the camera, and some time later, after you'd taken the designated number of photos and sent them to be developed, eagerly opened a package of previously unseen snapshots? Unfortunately in my case, my excitement at receiving the developed photos was often crushed on discovering that I'd inevitably chopped someone's head off, or inadvertently produced some kind of weird and unattractive double exposure!

the lomographer's philosophy is 'Don't think, just shoot', resulting in some weird and wonderful shots taken at unconventional angles and with varied amounts of light

Of course the art of taking casual photos has been transformed by digital photography, where we can see shots as soon as they're taken and discard any dud ones immediately. However in the realm of more serious photography, it seems there's a growing interest in experimenting with the methods and mishaps of the old days – a creative trend now often known as lomography.

Lomography is an experimental form of photography using film and old-fashioned, analogue cameras. In contrast to the crisp images produced by modern digital cameras, lomography produces soft-focus pictures in vibrant colours, developed in a lab in the traditional way. Devotees of the practice, known as lomographers, often experiment with techniques such as distortion, blurring, and multiple-exposures, all things which are deemed to be 'bad' in conventional photography. The lomographer's philosophy is 'Don't think, just shoot', resulting in some weird and wonderful shots taken at unconventional angles and with varied amounts of light. In the world of Lomo, as it's affectionately known by enthusiasts, anything goes. You can see some interesting examples at this dedicated lomography website.

Though lomography exploits 20th century techniques, its success as an art form can be largely put down to 21st century technology, with an active online community uploading many thousands of images on a daily basis. A key player is an international organization known as The Lomographic Society, which circulates newsletters, organizes conferences, and markets particular Lomo camera models.

Background – lomography

The term lomography is a blend of photography, and acronym LOMO, used to refer to a type of camera made by the Soviet-era Leningrad Optics and Mechanics Association. The term was born in the early nineties when a group of Austrian students developed an interest in the images produced by the 35mm LOMO LC-A camera. In 1992 The Lomographic Society International was founded, and in 1995 a business deal was signed for the manufacture and distribution of the cameras outside the former Soviet Union. The capitalized form Lomography is also used as a commercial trademark by the distributors.

Though the word lomography is usually used to refer to the art of taking photos with cameras of the type marketed by The Lomographic Society, it's also beginning to be used more generally to describe photography using any, cheap, quirky camera. Following the derivational pattern of photography, as well as the derived adjective lomographic and noun lomographer, there's also some evidence for use of the noun lomograph to describe the images produced.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

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This article was first published on 28th May 2013.

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