(The following blog entry was written by an ex photography student of mine who also happens to be my son, Riley Janzen)
The “Ten Golden Rules”, as pictured below, lay the groundwork for a type of photography that is characterized by lo-fi film cameras, light leaks, multiple lenses, coloured flashes, and expired film. Lomography is a company and community that promote this type of spontaneous and haphazard form of photography. In 1991, Lomography came to be when an exclusive distribution agreement was signed with LOMO PLC, which was a state-run optics manufacturer and the creator of the original Lomography camera, the Lomo LC-A. The advantage that Lomography poses when compared to other forms of photography is it’s extensive freedom of expression which allows the photographer to pursue their personal artistic direction through a lack of strict rules.
Common attributes shared by these “Lomographs” include light-leaks, vignetting, double-exposures, graininess, vivid or subdued colours, disregard for image composition and different film formats like medium and half-frame.
This image presents an extreme example of a light-leak, which is normally caused by light leaking into the camera and exposing the film in certain places. The effect seen in this image was created by shooting in complete darkness using a flash with a blue filter. In normal photography, light-leaks are seen as an eyesore and a camera defect. However, with Lomography, they are considered quite the opposite as they are used to enhance otherwise prosaic photos by adding a layer of depth.
One can also see the amount of grain in this photo, caused by the film speed, or ISO of the film used by the camera. Also, the “Rule of Thirds” has been ignored in this photo, with the subject placed to the extreme left which creates a feeling of anxiousness.
This photo was captured with a camera that shoots half-frames, which is as the name implies, two exposures to each frame. Half-frames can be used to tell a story through the use of juxtaposition, or to save film. The black, white, and blue tones are a byproduct of experimentation with different types of development processes. In this case, colour film was used, and then a process reserved for black and white photo development was implemented.
Some Lomographic cameras use different film formats. This photo was taken with a Holga 120, which is a plastic-body camera that shoots medium, or 120, format film that has a different aspect ratio than 35mm film. Extreme examples of vignetting, high contrast, and subdued colours can be seen in this photo. The problem with medium and large format film is that finding a store that can develop them, as the process for developing medium format film has been mostly phased out through the years.
The aforementioned photographic qualities are produced in the most part by the different types of cameras and their quirks. Examples of cameras used to reproduce this haphazard and retro feel are cheap, plastic toy cameras like the Golden Half (Left), which shoots half-frame images, and the Holga 135TIM (right), which can shoot half-frame, stereoscopic, or long-exposure images.
Cameras used for Lomography are not limited to plastic, toy cameras. Older model, and in some cases, deadstock, Single Lens and Twin-Lens Reflex film cameras are commonly used. This picture has examples of multiple exposures, and warm, subdued colours. It was taken with a Lomo Smena 8M, a dead-stock, Russian made, plastic-body film SLR. The 8M is a notable Lomo brand camera for it’s glass lens that produces the warm tones in the picture above and is seldom seen in Lomography cameras which normally have plastic lenses.
Before being a form of photography, Lomography is first and foremost, a company who’s goal is for the members of the community to spend as much money on their online store buying different types of film, cameras and accessories. Through their sentiment of taking as many pictures as possible without worrying too much about the composition or subject of the photo, the photographers end up spending a lot of money buying film, not to mention the development costs.
While Lomography is a refreshing and enjoyable way to express one’s self, it is very easy to see the company’s real goal, sell the photographer as many plastic, toy cameras, and expired film as possible.
Check out this link for a slideshow of lomography images.
All Lomography images taken by Riley Janzen
Some product images courtesy of http://www.lomoplc.com/