When you enter the world of plastic cameras, you’re undoubtedly going to run across the term Lomography. Just what is lomography, how does it relate to photography, and where did this term come from?
Despite its technical-sounding name, lomography is not a historic term like photography or cyanotype or daguerreotype or so on. Instead, lomography is a made-up name, and it only came into being around 1992.
The world of lomography began in Austria, the home of so many other cool artistic and music endeavors. It was there that a group of students came across the Russian LOMO LC-A camera. The students thought it was cool. Much like the Holga, the LOMO was inexpensive, simple, and great fun. It shot 35mm film with manual advance, manual focus, and a fixed shutter speed. The possibilities, of course, were endless.
After playing with this camera for a while, the students quickly developed a fan base for the LC-A. They began distributing the LC-A throughout Europe. The group became so popular that they began developing other cameras as well. They created the Diana F+, which is a modern version of the Hong Kong “Diana” plastic camera. I own an original Diana and it’s just as much fun as the Holga is.
The core aim of the Lomography movement is to provide reliable, easy access to plastic cameras and to encourage film camera shooting. In our modern world of digital cameras, it can seem like “too much work” to shoot film. Also, people can easily obsess about getting exactly the right perfect image because, with a digital camera, they can just shoot, shoot, and shoot some more.
Film is often the opposite.
With a film camera, you know each shot matters. At the same time, you have to give up control. You can’t be exactly sure how it will come out. Will the exposure be right? Will there be light leaks? Will something be fuzzy? You can’t know, and that’s OK. You accept the process of how it works.
For all those reasons, it’s great that the lomographers exist and that they provide inexpensive plastic cameras for artists to work with. It’s a great step in preserving our long history of film artistry.