Lomography – Capturing the unknown.
Last year I was talking to a work colleague about photography, we both share a keen interest in photos, art and graphic design. She mentioned the word Lomography to me and I immediately punched it in to a search engine and found this website. Needless to say, I was inspired (doesn’t take much!) and excited by the concept. The first thing I read were the rules. “Rules?” I hear you say in astonishment, yes mon ami, the ten golden rules or ‘commandments’ if you will, are as follows….
- Take your camera everywhere you go. (This one is key! I quote Perry White from one of the Superman films, “A photographer eats with his camera, a photographer sleeps with his camera…”)
- Use it any time – day and night. (Pretty self-explanatory this one, duh!)
- Lomography is not an interference in your life, but part of it. (Yeah ok, whatever! Sounding a little bit ‘self-help’ now.)
- Try the shot from the hip. (Cool! They’re advocating cavalier behaviour! Camera Obscura here I come, reach for the sky pilgrims!)
- Approach the objects of your Lomographic desire as close as possible. (Ok, sounds fine as long as you’re not photographing dangerous wild animals!)
- Don’t Think. (This is probably the most valuable piece of advice. Thinking too much when trying to do anything random is a bit of a no-brainer, as the Americans say!)
- Be fast. (Those with an itchy shutter finger will find this elementary enough!)
- You don’t have to know beforehand what you captured on film. (Remember the days without a preview screen, when one might have to wait more than a nano-second before one could see the results!?)
- Afterwards either. (Ok now that’s just nihilism!)
- Don’t worry about any rules. (Maybe they should’ve made this rule numero uno!)
I like the idea of happy accidents. Sometimes the most beautiful things happen all by themselves, as if by mistake. For every torrent of dismay and misanthropy, there is an occasional sunbeam that will lift your heart and restore hope. I digress, the essential ethos of Lomography is to capture whatever comes out. No thought, no hesitation, just click and move on. Maybe most of your photos will be rubbish, and if you were to print them (yes kids, some people still shoot with film!…Crazy!) this could be a costly business. I am sure the promoters of Lomography want you to buy their camera the Lomo LC-A, for without it, you would no doubt feel like a charlatan and not a bona-fide Lomographer at all. Well, that’s just bonkers! I myself was tempted to buy one when I first heard about this phenomenon, but instead invested in a run of the mill point and click and set out with my ten golden rules. Foolishly I concentrated on rule number ten and found out the hard way, that some of the best photographs are never taken. Why? Because I forgot the first rule, the goldest rule of all! I can hear Perry right now “A photographer eats…” yeah…I know chief! So after a rocky start I insisted to myself that I would take my camera with me everywhere I went. Sure enough, as soon as I started to do just that, my life changed. Ok, not dramatically, but noticeably. Something that was missing previously, became fulfilled. I suddenly found out that my interest in Lomography had acted as a catalyst for my interest in photography in general. I’ve been taking photos all my life with my mind’s eye, all that was missing all these years was a camera.
Although I shoot in a digital format, it is possible to play with the settings on any digital camera and reproduce similar effects that one might get shooting on Lomographic film. In Photoshop, you can reproduce any kind of style, but that kind of misses the point somewhat. I personally like to manually alter the settings on my camera, reducing or increasing the exposure for example, or using a double exposure that captures the foreground first and the background on the second flash.
This is digital, but it’s also Lomography in its ethos and practice. I didn’t even look at the shot until I got home either! I must hold my hands up to reducing the exposure even further in Ps CS3, but hey, sue me! Rule ten, right!?
I have had great fun experimenting with different ideas and it has given me a chance to get to know my camera, what its limits are and what it is capable of. To be honest, any old point and click will give you the desired effect!
I took this photo using the same settings, two exposures, the first, a fast exposure capturing the foreground and the second a slower exposure capturing the background. I held the camera at arm’s length and spun on my heels, giving the nice lighting effect. In actuality, they are stationary street lamps.
I did not alter this image in Photoshop at all, except to downsize it and save it for web and devices! There’s another bonus to doing things digitally, you can exhibit, share and manipulate your images without having to scan them in! Not that I’m poo-pooing those that still shoot in analogue. I think that’s cool. More power to you, indeed! I just get along with the speed of the digital age – zoom click zoom – rule 7!
One of these days, I might get me a LOMO LC-A or a Diana F+ and swank it up with the rest of those cool cats down on Lomography Lane. Doubtful, but I might. Until then, I’m going to live by the code, never fail to take my trusty Casio EX-Z35 with me, shoot from the hip as fast as I can and above all, I’m going to capture the unknown! In this age of new media, where image reigns supreme, I believe it is our duty as artists to……. wow, goin’ off on one there! Glad you stopped me. You know what I’d really like? A Polaroid!