What's this Lomo malarkey all about?
I first stumbled across Lomography (photography with a Lomo camera) in 1999 when, on the strength of an article in long defunct UK magazine Level, I splashed out £90 on a small Russian analogue camera, the Lomo LC-A. At a time when the world was clamouring for more and more megapixels it promised saturated colour along with grainy, vignetted, imperfect and often blurred pictures, all of which seemed delightfully contradictory in the face of a digital revolution.
Embracing this idea of imperfection and carrying my trusty LC-A with me everywhere I began to snap away at anything and everything. Following the Lomo golden rule which says 'don’t think, just shoot' meant not necessarily looking through the viewfinder to frame a shot, shooting from the hip or low down on the ground. The resulting pictures offered a unique snapshot of life from a very different angle, along with a fierce wastage rate which led me to consider myself an accidental photographer. If I got a good shot, it was usually by accident.
Despite this I quickly became hooked on the unique world of Lomography, never mind the fact that using film is so last century. There's no autofocus so things aren't pin-sharp, it doesn’t necessarily adhere to the rule of thirds, you can cut peoples heads off (figuratively speaking) and it simply doesn’t matter. Then there’s the fact that analogue photography is all rather slow. There’s no instant gratification, no screen upon which to check whether the picture you’ve just taken is any good and then there’s the added delay of getting stuff developed at a lab.
Many years and untold rolls of film later I'm still mad about analogue. The look of surprise you get when you pull out a little black film camera, the look that says ‘what the hell is that?’ Relying upon things like intuition, chance and luck rather than more established rules. The restless impatience while a film is being developed turning to giddy excitement when it finally comes back. The crazy and unpredictable colour shifts you get when cross processing slide film and the many happy accidents involved with double exposures. The fact that you can get all this straight out of a camera with no need for filters. Most of all, in a world full of homogeny and conformity I love the fact that it’s simply a bit different from everything else and that along with all the other quirks is what makes Lomography so addictive.
Make no mistake, this is a million miles away from proper photography and I’d go so far as to say I’m not really a photographer. Instead I’m just someone who takes pictures and as such rather than seeing a photo opportunity I invariably see a Lomo opportunity.