Lomography – a community dedicated to analogue photography – has its beginnings in the early 1990s when two students in Vienna discovered the small Russian camera, the Lomo Kompakt Automat. They were so excited by the variety of images the camera produced that they were inspired to approach the Lomo factory to get the licence required to reproduce the cameras. Since then, Lomography has gone from strength to strength and now boasts a community of over half a million members across the world.
We spoke to Lomography about analogue photography’s place in a digital world (see also our tutorial on How to get the Lomo effect in Photoshop).
Are you seeing any increase or decrease in the growth of Lomography’s community in the wake of digital photography’s popularity?
It is growing all the time. We have a huge community base in the US and in Europe the UK is our biggest market. We have three gallery stores in the UK, and we are always moving into new countries. At the moment Brazil is our fastest growing market.
Our website is currently translated into 22 different languages and we’ve recently opened up our Turkish online shop.
Has the Internet helped in the development of Lomography’s growth and its community?
Lomography.com is a very active online community with over 1 million registered users. Recently we just passed 15 million likes for photos that users upload to our site! Users can upload photos and like each other’s work, so it is a social media platform in itself. People can even write for our magazine, so it’s very well established. Our ethos is all about the community and involvement.
What effect do you think apps such as Instagram have had on Lomography as a community, or even photography as a whole?
People who are interested in the aesthetic of Instagram will always be interested in Lomography. Digital photography aims to be a close representation of reality, whereas textures are distinctive of Lomography images. Cross processing is popular with slide film, and the results are unpredictable. The images often have bright and vibrant colours, which are similar to the colours created on apps such as Instagram.
So this has made Lomography more popular as people research how they can achieve these affects without the use of apps.
People are very creative with the film – we’ve known people to put hole in the film, pour coffee on it, put it in the dishwasher, and even wee on it!
The charm of having film is that you can’t predict how it’s going to come out.
Has Lomography been helped or hindered by large camera brands such as Nikon or Canon?
Other camera brands have helped build our community as they have helped set up the foundations for photography.
Are there any exciting projects or products that you’re working on at the moment?
We have a big exhibition coming up at Museum of London in July; LomoWall will showcase tens of thousands of photographs submitted by the Lomography community. We also have a city guide to London book coming out on the Lomographer’s tips to London.
What do you think the future holds of photography? Will there still be a place for Lomography and analogue photography?
There always will be a place for film photography. We sold 2 million rolls of film in 2011! I like to use the analogy that when photography first came out people didn’t stop painting. In an age of digital photography people will still be interested in film photography. It has its own skillset. You can never learn everything there is to know about it 100 per cent, so there will always be so much for people to learn.