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Where Have All Our Lomofriends Gone?

Dozens of great lomographers have disappeared in the past year. Why?

Hello my friends,

I’ve been noticing for quite some time now that many people who once were regular contributors to the site have now disappeared. The question in my mind is why would that be? In my opinion, this is one of the best if not the premier site for analogue and toy camera photography. I love the diversity of this group, ranging from complete neophytes to die hard veterans, and this fertile mix makes for a wonderful creativity and a terrific energy. I love the fresh approaches and new ideas that I see here and even after several years of daily participation I still am inspired regularly by the amazing talent that the group attracts.

So why this big fall off in participation? Is it because there are so many other social media sites for photographers these days that many people have migrated to Facebook or Flickr? Are people burned out on social media in general? Was lomography just a fad that peaked a few years ago and is now in decline? Have all the hipsters decided that film photography is too slow and difficult and they are now just using their iphones and Instagram to get that retro film look and special effects?

While any of those explanations might be contributing factors I keep coming back to the other glaring factor that may be largely responsible. I noticed that after lomography started releasing products for digital camera users last year there was a big backlash and outcry. And when they added the question in the upload section about whether the image was digital or not I think that rankled many here. I don’t pay any attention to it btw and simply skip that question when filling in the fields but it is there and it’s the first thing you see so I think that may leave a bad taste in some people’s mouths.

After all, for years this site has been about analogue photography and celebrating lo-fi photos in particular. So this change of approach might be creating a conflict in people’s perception of what the site is about.

Personally I love the fact that people post analogue photos from all kinds of cameras, ranging from the cheapest plastic toys to the most expensive high quality equipment and all of it is embraced warmly. The fact that you don’t have to post images made only with lomography equipment is the most important feature of the site. This range and diversity is great for aspiring photographers of every kind because it educates the eye and someone who is alert and open to new experiences can learn so much by hanging out here and absorbing it all. One other benefit is that since people from every corner of the world post here, lomography acts as a giant armchair travel adventure and speaking just from my own experience I have greatly enjoyed getting a peek into the lives and lands of others. Lomography has truly broadened my horizons and I am very grateful for that.

Photo by clickiemcpete

I think LSI looks at the photography marketplace in a business like way and they realize that to stay competitive in the world as it is in 2014 they need to relate to the digital imaging community. So they have made a few lenses that can be used on digital equipment as well as analogue. And probably because they had the new high end lens making connections they figured they could add a few more products into the mix that would be strictly for digital cameras, ie the micro 4/3 crowd. As a business person and small scale manufacturer myself I can totally understand that and honestly if I were running the company I probably would have done the same exact thing. It is a smart business decision in what is a predominately digital image making marketplace. And that marketplace is undoubtedly enormous compared to the dwindling analogue marketplace.

So, if the big Lomography Exodus is mostly because a bunch of lomographers are pissed that LSI now allows digital images on the site I have to shake my head. Give these guys a break! I would point out that there have been almost no digital images uploaded to Lomography since they added that button. None that I have seen. Zero. Nada.

So what’s the problem? What is the big deal? What is the issue?

I think those that are angry about that should ignore the digital vs analogue argument. They should ignore the silly question on the uploader and realize that lomography remains the only true analogue lovers site that is not diluted with every other type of image such as you will find on Facebook or Flickr. Lomography has the most active and spirited interaction of any of the sites on the internet and there is much value to sticking together as a community.

For LSI’s part, I think they ought to take down the analogue vs digital question on the uploader and say that this is a 100% analogue site. Simply forget it and let people discern for themselves if images are film or have been taken digitally. It really has never been much of a problem in the past anyway.

So what say you my fellow film nuts? Shall we forgive and forget, let bygones be bygones? It’s a great site and it is what we make it. Together my friends, together. ;)

written by clickiemcpete

35 comments

  1. herbert-4

    herbert-4

    I'm still on Lomography, but a pet peeve... LSI neglected to make Petzval in M42, and Waterhouse stops are just STUPID!! It needs a real diaphragm and bokeh modifiers can slot in at front of lens. Another is that the LA Lomography Stores went out of business because of poor location.

    6 months ago · report as spam
  2. hanifmaidin

    hanifmaidin

    in most part of the world, LSI discourage the present of local chapter of lomo club. and they also discourage of using 'lomo' as there are trade mark. so there are no more activity, no more pride to be a lomographer. lomo has been constantly depending to kick starter to launch new product.

    6 months ago · report as spam
  3. clickiemcpete

    clickiemcpete

    Great point about the Petzval Herbert, would be nice if it had a modern diaphragm. I think they were trying to stay true to the original design though so from that standpoint it's OK. Would be nice to see other mounts though. L39 would allow to adapt to just about anything wouldn't it?

    6 months ago · report as spam
  4. _smg_

    _smg_

    I have a Paula Cole song stuck in my head now!!

    6 months ago · report as spam
  5. jean_louis_pujol

    jean_louis_pujol

    I have the same feeling that you got regarding the slowdown of lomography flow on the site. Some lomographers stay here. This is what is important. I fully agree with you when you said that the site improves our knowledge of people everywhere.

    6 months ago · report as spam
  6. noe_arteaga

    noe_arteaga

    They're out shooting new instant integral film with their Polaroid cameras.

    6 months ago · report as spam
  7. crevans27

    crevans27

    I think you've summed up the contributing factors well. I've only been here a few year, and since I started I've seen a huge decline in the number of quality articles. I used to spend hours catching up after I missed a few days, now I can look at the articles in a few minutes. I also think that the website would be improved with a kind of forum, a place where we can discuss things and share ideas almost instantly.

    6 months ago · report as spam
  8. neonlights

    neonlights

    Very accurate article! interesting! I've been away from Lomography just beacause of that... and some other things. What hanifmaidin say: "no more pride to be a lomographer", is the feeling I have. And let that add some other points: the discourage because of "everybody" can take a lomo-like-picture. There are filters in Instagram, right? You can see in the net everyday and huh! Some of them are amazing stuff! And this is the antithesis: if is it so EASY to take pictures with your cell phone, add a filter and then put it on a website, who will apreciate the real lomo-pictures. Even Lomography sometimes seems to be agree with it. Allways so openminded! And Lomography itself are losing "autenticity", I don't know if I use that word correctly. Lomo it is not for everybody, you have to improve and fail, and improve your skills again, to be a good lomographer. When I go to a lomo-shop, they have LOTS of cameras, in MANY colors or patterns or blabla, I don't care for that stuff, I want, for instance, a Fuji Superia roll, or a Kodak 160 professional roll, or so. But they only have the packs of their own, the "red-scale" lomo 3 packed, the 200 asa lomo color pack, etc etc. In Spain, I mean. What is it, then? In what are thinking them? I sometimes feel that they want to sell, that the spirit its almost over. Sorry for thinking that, please make me feel its not that way.

    6 months ago · report as spam
  9. clickiemcpete

    clickiemcpete

    Thank you for the great comments everyone!

    6 months ago · report as spam
  10. grazie

    grazie

    Hi Peter! I think it was a bit of disappointment because of the change in piggies rules, then right after that the lenses for mirrorless digital cameras and then the thing where lomo allows digital images posted on the site. I was very disappointed too with that but if ever I became less active it's not because of those reasons. Just that life changed and I've gotten a bit busier :). I have too much to thank lomo for to be disinterested just because of those. the community, the friendships....they are so vital. More important than any digital vs film debate or change of piggy rules. I can connect to a lot on fb but a lot of friends like you I can only really connect to here. I miss the other lomographers but I do believe they will post again.

    6 months ago · report as spam
  11. tsingtao

    tsingtao

    For me the reason is the change of the piggies rules..

    6 months ago · report as spam
  12. yonosoydeaqui

    yonosoydeaqui

    I was too a bit shocked to see the is this photo digital? question. I came here because this is the home of analogue, and today I discovered about the new rule about the piggies, why do they bother with them? I can't use them unless I go bankrupt!

    6 months ago · report as spam
  13. darkbow

    darkbow

    I'm new to this site, in fact I'm stil waiting for my first filmrol to get back from the lab, but I really love this site! And I also think that a forum would be great foe this site.
    6 months ago · report as spam
  14. asharnanae

    asharnanae

    great post :)

    In terms of the slowdown, I think much of what needs to be said has been, repetition after repetition is not really helpful. Sometimes I think a slightly more organised or compartmented approach to the tipsters would be good, or a more forum type approach, because not every article is something i need or want to see, and some are pure fluff. The ability to go to just ones on a particular theme, say, Film development, or Experimentation, etc would be good. And even though there is a search function, I never seem to get anything near to I want it with it, totally random articles every time.

    In the allowance of digital onto the site, i'm not that bothered, as long as people do say that it is either digital or film, because it is still the expectation that the image is film based here. And piggies, while nice were never motivating factor for me to post.

    Like 'herbert-4' It also irked me that there was no Pentax mount for the pertzval, and while yes, i could get an adaptive mount, for the price, it just irked me to much.

    I still like the site though, and do visit most days, mainly to read blog posts and look at newly posted photos and to upload, if I have any of my own to photos upload. Seeing what a global group of like minded people of all ages, races, creeds and colours do with photography is what brings me back, the melting pot. As far as the Comps, Tipsters and the the analogue life section go, I skim to see if there is anything of interest (mostly cuz a lot is reposted, repeated or fluff), but rarely stay long.

    6 months ago · report as spam
  15. alienmeatsack

    alienmeatsack

    Good blog post, it pretty much says things I have been thinking and hits on points I've thought about. And many of the comments do as well... I personally don't care about digital vs film, I shoot film most of the time but due to the way digital is treated here I've avoided even putting shots of my gear up that are shot on my phone. I do have some shots that are digital but overall I am mostly film here because of this.

    I also think that the Piggies rules have scared away or pissed off some users. They don't make me too pleased either. When I first joined, I had a discussion with someone outside of here who had been a member when you could bank piggies and use them for anything. They told me they used their piggies to get a LC-A+ among other things, for free. That sounded really cool, but then I've seen my hard earned Piggies VANISH because I couldn't use them for certain products or could only use them for a tiny part of the purchase of some things. Many times, it was just cheaper to go elsewhere to buy the same product, no piggies hassle and the shipping was cheaper.

    And there's always an ebb and flow of users on any forum, site or place. It doesn't matter if it's a website, a blog, an app people use or a physical location, things come in and out of fashion. I think this contributes to the users slowly vanishing.

    It seems like there are maybe 20-40 of us here who regularly contribute to the site, submitting photos, commenting and liking photos, doing swaps, blogs and articles, and all the interactive goodness that happens here. And then there are the rest of the folks, some of whom have come and gone after a few rolls but had something magical to contribute just the same. I also think there are a few people here who have been given godlike status when they are just average photographers like everyone else. I see each of you, everyone here, as equals. And treat everyone as same.

    6 months ago · report as spam
  16. saidseni

    saidseni

    I think I agree with every word you wrote...! :)

    6 months ago · report as spam
  17. stratski

    stratski

    I´ve noticed the same, but I´m not really bothered too much. Though it´s sad to see talented, nice people go, there will always be new talented, nice people. And old farts like us no-one seems to be able to get rid of ;-)
    I must admit I was a bit pissed off when the piggies rules changed. I decided I wouldn't write articles anymore, I'd just start my own blog. I did, and I love that blog, but I find myself still writing here. I just like writing I guess. I'm up to 380 piggies I'll probably never use (because no spending them on Purple, of fancy lenses, that still pisses me off). I'm aiming for 1000, just to see if I can. I do wish they would put up some better quality content. Sure, my articles are not pulitzer material either, but there is so much fluff and filler here! I agree with asharnanae on that.
    But all that is not really important. I still visit the site every day, to see amazing pictures from all over the word, and to show my pictures to amazing people from all over the world. That will never change.

    6 months ago · report as spam
  18. lawypop

    lawypop

    I noticed the "change " too... I may be shooting lesser now ...but my Heart's still here ! It may sound corny but TRUE!

    6 months ago · report as spam
  19. neja

    neja

    I am upset about new piggies policy. I have about 130 now but I can't spend it....

    6 months ago · report as spam
  20. crismiranda

    crismiranda

    Very nice article. I am still here and let's see where it will take us.

    6 months ago · report as spam
  21. crismiranda

    crismiranda

    For us, brazilians, things got worse. As Lomography is no longer in bussiness here, we don't have the chance to buy online. I've got 65 piggies and I can't spend them, even if I was up to spend $300, which in my opinion is a very upsetting policy because it's too much money.

    6 months ago · report as spam
  22. akula

    akula

    Well written, the comments are very insightful as well. I came to this sight too late - I missed the Lomography sight at it's peak.

    6 months ago · report as spam
  23. marcel2cv

    marcel2cv

    Fair shout, Pete! I agree. :)

    6 months ago · report as spam
  24. kiri-girl

    kiri-girl

    Hi! I love this site however, I would be on here so much more often if this site was apple friendly, as I mainly use my ipad I can't upload any photos from here! I would push for an app. It just makes sense! However inactive I may be my hearts still in it and will keep coming back for inspiration :)

    5 months ago · report as spam
  25. stouf

    stouf

    Nice one! To sum my feelings up, I'd say that I don't care about piggies, I don't want to see digital photos on this site and that the declining quality of published articles is a big problem. Apart from that I'm still sticking around for the wonderful community and the rare good articles : )

    30 days ago · report as spam
  26. sandravo

    sandravo

    I haven't been along all that long, closing in on 2 years, and even though I had a good time, there's a couple of things that has stopped me from posting albums lately. The digital issue is a big one for me, even though you say you haven't seen any around, there are plenty.... Just not all of them tick the 'this is digital' box. Browsing and liking photos was fun as long as it was a given they were all analogue, that has gone now. Don't get me wrong, nothing against digital work, I shoot digital myself, but I don't think both they should go head to head on what used to be the ultimate analogue site. Another is issue is the relentless use of one of my images without any credits granted. For almost a year I see my own photo showing up as a background to the film subscription banner, I never realized that posting an image here meant handing over the rights to LSI. It sure got me thinking!
    Other then that, I still love lomography as a style of shooting, give the occasional workshop, do some writing and translating for the local magazine. And most importantly. I STILL SHOOT FILM!

    30 days ago · report as spam
  27. neanderthalis

    neanderthalis

    I've noticed that some members pictures here have ended up as ads on other websites for Lomo marketing. After that, I've been more selective on what I share.
    I stopped writing due to the Piggy Point policy change. I never had a ton, but I was able to write enough to make a serious discount on a premium camera or two for which I was grateful.
    The posting of digital without identifying is disingenuous. I get frustrated with my other favorite community because the groups are inundated obviously digital pictures in analogue categories. I don't want to see their Instagram selfies in my panoramic film group.
    I do miss some very talented posters. I wish them the best and hope they are still shooting film.

    28 days ago · report as spam
  28. allanbendiksen

    allanbendiksen

    Great article. Sorry that I first saw it today.
    I agree with you Pete. I often wondred where the people are. I often like albums, and realise that there has been no activity on the Lomohome for a while.
    But I will keep on posting, because I have got a lot of friends here and I love to see the creativity of the community.
    I also find it a great way to see places in a different way, through the cameras of my fellow parners in crime.
    But take a way the digital button. We don`t need it here. There are so many sites for digital photos, not so many for us who like to keep the past alive.

    27 days ago · report as spam
  29. paulmckay

    paulmckay

    Great article and got me thinking. The East London store closed recently and I wondered at the time whether there was an underlying decline, especially after only three of us turned up to one of their Analogue Photography Day events in the summer. Now I've checked google trend searches for "lomography" and you see a worrying direction: a steady decline since 2011. Against that background LSI have got to find a way to keep the brand fresh! There will always be some churn on these kind of sites, but if overall numbers are down then they'll be looking at whether it's due to increased losses (people annoyed/bored) or decreased entries (not enough people aware/trying their products + site). I would guess that fewer new Lomographers is more of an issue than losses, so driving trial should be a priority. Losing gallery stores and locking people out of the entry price points by (a) innovating in premium (Konstruktor excepted; that was genius) (b) changes to Piggie Points, is the opposite of that. These tactics might help their profit in the short/mid-term but unless they find a way to increase exposure with target audience it'll be a long slow death :-(

    Personally I hope it doesn't come to that but like everyone here I'm sat on a fair few piggies that I think will expire rather than be used to buy a friend a cheap camera/myself something pretty to increase my film usage and lomo love. Sad times, I hope I'm wrong.

    27 days ago · report as spam
  30. troch

    troch

    Hi Peter, great article. I agree with it wholeheartedly and I miss the very talented photographers who used to grace these pages, although there are still many, many great shooters here.
    LSI made a major tactical error when it expanded too quickly on the back of the hipster analogue fad. They overextended themselves and then pissed off many oldtimers by changing too many of the rules, too quickly (piggies, digital photos, etc.). I also wish that they would at least ask before using my photos. To protect my own gallery, I have to be very careful now.
    That said, this is still the best site for analogue, bar none. Like @stouf, piggies were not my reason to be here, is is all about the sharing of pictures and ideas, and the great sense of community.
    Keep shooting film, everyone. Cheers

    27 days ago · report as spam
  31. lazybuddha

    lazybuddha

    An interesting article Mr McPete. Although I am probably not one of the ones you had in mind when you wrote this article, I am never-the-less part of the mass exodus you describe. I haven't posted anything (and hardly visited the site at all) for over a year now, although I still recieve email updates, which is where I saw your article. Piggies where never an issue for me, I couldn't care less, and although the addition of digital products was annoying it wasn't the main reason for my leaving. It was more a culmination of factors, a couple of which haven't been mentioned so far in this discussion; firstly the cult of personality that had developed around certain lomographers, leading to decidedly average photographs (even bad ones) getting hundreds of 'likes' and reciprocal 'like' giving with little or no merit involved; secondly the acceptance of digital images on what was always an analogue site; and thirdly the demand that we pay in advance for all the new products. It started with the Lomochrome Purple, we were told we could buy it now and receive it in 6 months, the complete opposite of the ads now running by proper buisnesses where you can buy now pay at Easter, or next year, or whenever. So in other words we were expected to fund Lomography's production costs in advance! Then came the Petzval lens and we were expected to fund not only their production costs but their Reasearch and Development costs as well!!! WTF? If you are a business and you require funding you seek investment, you then use that investment to manufacture a product, then you sell the product and pay back the investment. You are a business man and an entreprenuer yourself, I'm sure I don't need to tell you how this works. You do not exploit your partrons with no security and no return on their investment. To me this whole approach smacks of exploitation and laziness on LSI's part. You are probably right that digital products, acceptance of digital photos etc., even this Kickstarter funding, makes sense from a business point of view but the core issue is LSI seeming more like an exploitative business (as also shown in their use of people's shots for advertising without permission) and less like a community, that is causing the exodus. As @paulmckay has said, something may make sense in the short term but if it means alienating the people who made Lomography such a success in the first place it will be long term suicide.

    P.S. Still shooting analogue, much love.

    27 days ago · report as spam
  32. istionojr

    istionojr

    :(

    26 days ago · report as spam
  33. stouf

    stouf

    ... and I'm also tired of all rewards given for website usage. I've listed them here: http://next.lomography.com/about

    23 days ago · report as spam
  34. pomps

    pomps

    I wasn´t here for ages and just read this article. My last year was a roller coaster! that means a baby and moving from Buenos Aires to Vienna! I wasn´t around here but I hope I can manage somehow to up load photos,! but I haven´t been taking analog photos (also I have these digital lenses but I didn´t like them at all)

    15 days ago · report as spam
  35. schlogoat

    schlogoat

    This is brilliantly written, and true. I ignore that question on the uploader too.

    14 days ago · report as spam