Technology: My new lomo

It’s raw and spontaneous.

I just developed my first roll of film using a fisheye lomography camera. As I walked into the store to pick up my batch, the photo technician said one of the three rolls did not turn out at all. It’s par for the course when dealing with film, when dealing with lomography. What you see is not necessarily what you get with it. Artificial light plays a big role in transforming mundane colours into vibrant hues. Shadows and shade also add another eerie dimension. As the technician was packing the bundle of photos up over the counter, she said “Sometimes this happens with film,” referring to the lost roll.

I quickly left the shop, stopped and  stood outside briefly to browse the results.

Flipping through the sets two things were clear: 1 -I had a lot to learn about my new toy and 2-  film can sometimes be hit and miss. But, after reading the ten golden rules of Lomography I came across their motto: Don’t think, just shoot.It perfectly summed up my random array of snaps.

It got me thinking about this Russo-Chinese mechanical toy, an object I know nothing about but somehow trust its capabilities for off the cuff and callow image effects.  When you click the shutter it makes no noise. It’s really hard to tell if you’ve captured anything at all. There’s no digital screen to set up shots or review them. You just shoot, trust your instinct and hope that you’ve captured what you were after. In the age of digital and professional looking camera’s, these project-like objects certainly don’t look the part – but that’s all part of the mystery.

When I first saw a Lomographic photo of a beach landscape bathed in a vintage blue-ish green and saturated oranges and yellows, I thought it had been taken some time ago – possibly back in the 1970s. There are almost a quarter of a million people who share and submit photos on the Lomography Facebook group – everything from cats to car break lights and shells on the beach.No matter when it was taken they all seem to have a timeless appeal, like childhood memories.

In the early 1990s a couple of students discovered the Lomo Kompakt Automat – a small Russian camera – and created an artistic experimental approach to photography .Their idea: to take take as many photographs (Lomographs) as possible in the most impossible of situations and have them developed as cheaply as possible. The result was a flood of unfamiliar and often brilliant snapshots. It’s reputation flourished from that point on.

Today the community of Lomographers has over 500,000 members world-wide. Among these are mere mortals like you or me, but also such famous individuals as Brian Eno, Laurie Anderson, David Byrne, Pulp, Underworld, Helmut Lang, Moby and Robert Redford, to name just a few. The basic Lomographic idea: be fast, don’t think, be open-minded towards your environment and absorb everything.  Its creative premise is based on the playful combination of lo-tech and hi-tech. I’m looking forward to shooting the wacky, the impossible, shoe-boxes, chairs, tables, ceilings, lights, floors, people, animals, signs and anything else that is in my environment – living or not.

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