The new Photography

Now there’s a lomography gallery shop in Manchester – with an already strong following – I decided to address the phenomena that is Lomography.

So film is dead! Long live digital!  Kodak is going bust (seriously) and 126 and APS film is no longer available.

But wait – some fine marketing chaps from Austria have decided to repackage film photography and sell it back to us with a different name – lomography.  And this time folks, it’s ridiculously expensive.  Now I don’t want to be full of hate, lomography is also a very huge international community and the website, and aficionados don’t really go to extremes to stop that community conversing about all the very many short cuts, and economy options, which achieve the same results, so good luck to them.

Here’s my guide to lomography

Lesson 1

Lomography (shortened to Lomo) is named after Lomo plc, a Russian camera producers functioning out of St. Petersburg since the war (The Fiat of the camera world you might say).  Their cameras couldn’t compete with the super-ace German and Japanese SLR cameras which got crisp, amazing photos so they didn’t try– instead they made super cheap toy/plastic cameras for the masses.  They made the Smena range and the LCA, some of the most widely used and accessible cameras in the world.  Then one day two chaps in Austria realised you could get some cool effects using these old cameras, that you couldn’t with digital without a lot of Photoshop magic.  So they decided to become the agent for Lomo plc, create Lomo AG and market themselves cleverly.

Lesson 2

The glitch is Lomo plc made pretty lo-tech cameras.  I think the Russian word is ‘rubbish’.  They were famous for their flaws, but also for their ease of use and simplicity.  So Lomo AG capitalise on the flaws by making the cameras seem really cool, hip, energetic and rad.  Only now they’re £100 instead of £5 to pay for the burgeoning marketing bill  …So let me get this straight.  These products have flaws, but the flaws became popular and now they’re more expensive than the top of the range Japanese film cameras?  Yep.

Lesson 3

So it’s like this.  You get a decent Toshiba DVD player and it plays DVDs really quietly, never jumps and has lots of cool buttons you never really use apart from play, stop and pause.  Then you get a smart-price DVD player for less than ten pounds and it grinds and spins and sounds like a plane taking off as the machine tries to search for the DVD inside it.  Then someone reckons the smart-price DVD is pretty cool because the grinding and the jumping, and the fact you have to have the TV volume loud because the spinning disc sounds like a chainsaw.  They say it’s nostalgic.  They triple the price, and then….they triple it again.  Now you can have authentic ‘retro’ DVD experiences.  This is Lomo.

Lesson 4

Next logical question – hey can I go back to ASDA and get the original cheap smart price DVD player?

Answer – of course you can, go on eBay, Lomo PLC is still trading.  Buy a Smena, the downside is these cameras are heavy so you’re going to pay £15 postage from the Ukraine.  £5 camera plus £15 postage is still better than £100 though I guess.

Lesson 5

But let’s say you didn’t have the £20 so you did some thinking and thought hey – the cheaper, crappier the camera the more flawed it will be, the less perfect.  If I want nostalgic grinding DVDs and a laser that never finds the film and always says ERROR but I don’t get the smart price one, maybe I can just buy the cheapest nastiest one and get the same results.

So (DVD players aside) you went on eBay and bought the nastiest, plastic 35mm you could find.  You got it for £2 including postage?  Now you’re saving.  Alternatively go in the attic and unpack your granddad’s old camera collection, what’s he got?  An OM1, FM2, Yashika Electro?  Even better buy battery and film and learn how to use these babies but these are well made so you won’t get any silly effects.

Lesson 6

Finally – you join the Lomo community – which in their defence is full of free, easy advice to help you DIY and botch jobs together without buying the expensive gear.  And go into the Lomo shop with your plastic toy camera in your pocket.  Use their images for inspiration.  When the foppish dandy swaggers over looking at your Primark jeans with distain, tell him you’re just browsing.  “Why not look at the LCA, he might say, just £200 for retro, vintage, nostalgic brilliance.”

                “Erm, no, like I say, I’m just browsing.’  He’ll leave you alone eventually.

                Then start your Lomo journey.

You might want to have fun with Redscale film (Lomo price £12) follow the link and make it yourself

You might use expired film, about £1 or £1.50 per roll on eBay.  Expired film also gives crappy, flawed effects.

If your £2 camera isn’t giving the light flares and the crazy effects – drop it on a hard floor a few times, maybe break the back off and tape it back on.  Stick sweetie wrappers over the lens to colour your pictures.  Take the film out of the canister and scratch it, draw pictures on it with a nail, leave it on a radiator, dip it in coca cola, basically experiment.

Also developing is expensive with Lomo – £11 for 35mm (£2.80 in ASDA) and £12 for 120 roll (£8.50 with Fujifilm online)

Good luck!


10 thoughts on “The new Photography

  1. hah so true, get with the digital…. ….. people say digital photography isn’t as real as analogue photography, i say, stick it on manual, then tell me that

    • Well yeah, digital is super-cool. But I’m not really shitting on film photography, i’m just saying it should be cheap, and if it ain’t something has gone wrong. I think film still has a lot of milage. Digital has nothing of the science and the hands on connection so there will always be room I think. I love them both.
      Thanks for your comment William.

  2. Great post. This sounds so much fun! I’ve been hearing about / reading about Lomography for some time but never really thought about giving it a go myself. This post makes me want to try it. If other people are interested too do you fancy doing a tutorial-city walk around session? 😀 (where we can all smash up our new/old cameras together! You first – no, you first!)

    • Well
      (must not let this comment be as long as the original post)
      First of all I love wandering around Manchester with camera. Secondly someone just gave me a polaroid with a pack of film so I need to shoot that! I did a test shot to see if it stil works tonight when I got home and it’s on the post. Thirdly I bought a box load of these cheap, point and shoots last week. So not only can I come along to a lomo style wander of the city, i can supply cameras for up to 20 people!! whooop. Not film though. Or if they want film they’d have to buy it, actually, they could buy cameras too because I can’t use them all. £5 with a roll of film and a case.
      Okay I tried to keep it brief. Let me just say that throwing a camera against the floor is never good advice, I was just trying to make the point that the light leaks and stuff are due to inconsistent build quality!!

      I’ll probably ask you every time I see you now, when are we having a lomo photo day!!! What would I be tutorialing exactly?
      Thanks for your comments SD

      • Soooo, we won’t be smashing up your lovely new/old camera then? :-p lol. I didn’t think you were dead serious but I thought the odd knock and scratch would make them more endearing (assuming they still work that is!)

        Did you go to the lomography gallery shop opening? I received an invitation but I was out of the country at the time. Actually I received loads of invitations when I was out of the country. I missed so much on the run up to Christmas. 😦

        For the tutorial – I’m not really sure what I’m suggesting – I’m just a cowardly newbie who thought other cowardly newbie’s like me might like to shown what to do. You suggested sweetie wrappers over the lens, scratching the film, leaving it on a radiator, dipping it in coca cola etc. Well, ok, I’ll try it if you say so but you do it first so I’m not making an idiot of myself 😀 You’ve joined the Lomo community so teach us some of what you’ve learned – and at the same time show us some cool buildings / locations in Manchester.

        Andrew Brooks (my favourite Mancunian photographer) did a walk about tutorial around the city 2 years ago. Everyone’s favourite photos were blown up and displayed in a disused shop in The Triangle. I was gutted that I missed it. It wasn’t Lomo – just a walk about tutorial where people took photos of whatever (or whoever) caught their eye. My suggestion came from that.

  3. I can’t reply to a reply, I hate that on my blog.
    So wait…I thought I was your favourite Mancunian photographer…? So no you’re not my favourite Manchester information person, Terry Christian just took your place with his topical radio program, ha. Only joking. My ambition is to knock Andrew off that top spot and you to have one of my pics as banner.
    I would tutor anyone, but they’re so easy to use it would be a bit more of a mooch. And getting them produced in Manchester would be expensive, there’s a big ASDA near me and it’s £2 a roll, the average is £6-10. People can borrow my cameras, and yes, not throw them on the floor. There’s an actual way to get light leaks on photos like lomo, but they’d have to buy the cameras off me for a few pounds before they started on them with a sharp craft knife. Basically if you’r case isn’t lightproof you get light leaks, do the inbetween work yourself. Lets do it!! How do you suggest I advertise this service?

    Really I don’t have the skills. ;( but I’d be up for a wander if you ever want to!! and even if you can find anyone else who wants to.

    • Lol. If it’s any consolation you’ve bumped Brooks off my desktop wallpaper again! Despite the fact he’s given me some truly awesome wallpapers and screen savers my desktop image is your ‘Calm Before the Storm’ photo. (I named it that. I don’t know what you call it). You gave me permission to use it last year – Remember the one? It gets a lot of comments. 🙂

      • Yep, the one from the Isle of Man with the four flags in front of the building in Peel Harbour? I’ve took better ones than that, I got a proper camera and everything since then. You don’t like that deer one that’s my profile pic on twitter? That would make a nice background. I’ll knock him off one day. You didn’t see my new years eve pictures yet taken of Manchester at midnight from the hills!

  4. Pingback: Film February!! | Manchester's Artistic Son

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