At the end of 1999 discussions in St Petersburg arose again on the topic of whether to stop selling the LOMO LC-A directly from the factory and in the LOMO PLC in-house shop in St. Petersburg. This was settled in a contract in 1997, which the Russians resisted up until the very end. It would be no great loss to LOMO PLC to stop selling the camera.
With everything running as smoothly as possible the Lomographic Society began to concentrate on global events (LomoTravels to Vietnam, Paris, Havana, Moscow, Shanghai, Lomo World Congress in Madrid, openings of LomoEmbassies in Bregenz, Munich, Berlin, London, New York, Tokyo, Havana, Paris and more), new camera developments (for example, the 4 lens ‘Actionsampler’ from China) and internet ventures with the launch of the 1996 website www.lomography.com and the corresponding Online Shop.
The 4-lens Actionsampler was the second camera distributed by the Lomographic Society International and was introduced in 1998 at the Photokina in Cologne. 35. This Actionsampler photo was the winning image of the 1998 Actionsampler MarathonEvent held by the newly found New York Lomography Embassy.
At the end of 1999 discussions in St Petersburg arose again on the topic of whether to stop selling the LOMO LC-A directly from the factory and in the LOMO PLC in-house shop in St. Petersburg. This was settled in a contract in 1997, which the Russians resisted up until the very end. It would be no great loss to LOMO PLC to stop selling the camera. Nevertheless the proud Russians were convinced that the LOMO LC-A should remain available in its home country! This was an important psychological factor even if the little LOMO LC-A had only really sold well in the West. Most Russians were able to buy secondhand LOMO LC-A’s for a few Rubles from the local flea market’s. So, the Lomographers began to worry about the upcoming internet trade and the effect this would have on their sales. Some shrewd people could buy the LOMO LC-A cheaply in Russia and use the flourishing internet trade to sell it worldwide at a higher price. This would result in a huge dip in sales for the Lomographer’s Online Shop business which was essential for Lomography as a whole and for the production of the cameras in Russia. Eventually the LOMO LC-A production was financed and sustained by large parts through the emerging Lomographic Online Shop as their earlier fears proved unfounded.
What to do? Simple, open a Lomographic Embassy in St. Petersburg and sell cameras there officially! That way both parties would be happy as the LOMO LC-A would remain in Russia and at the same time the Lomographic Society would be selling the camera to exclusive traders (for a cheaper price than on the international market). The only thing still missing was the Lomographic Ambassador, who, you’ve guessed it, would be none other than Steffi. She had cleverly planned the contract in 1997 and won over the sympathy of the strict management at LOMO PLC. In addition, with her travel agency in Nevsky Prospekt, St Petersburg, there was no better place for her to prepare the newly established Embassy!
The opening of the first Russian Lomographic Embassy had to be celebrated. And of course at such an event the media needed to be invited in order to report in detail on the interesting procedures. Consequently, PR boss Lazar Zalmanov devised a special plan. “It’s exactly the seventieth birthday of the LOMO FOTOKOR, the first mass-produced camera by the Soviet Union. Let’s really celebrate by holding the event in one of the most prestigious theatres in the city and we’ll call the whole thing ‘Let’s bring the LOMO LC-A back to it’s motherland’. We can also announce the opening of the St Petersburg LomoEmbassy and finish the event off with the fine Lomo wine, your German LomoAmbassadors brought us.” Shortly after, the LOMO PLC PR department sent out invitations to everyone in St Petersburg with a rank and title. The St Petersburg LomoEmbassy was officially opened in 2000. As Ambassador, Stephanie Susan Weber announced that from that time on the LOMO LC-A would only be sold officially by her. In addition, a mammoth contract with the Lomographic Society had been concluded stipulating they would be working together for more than 15 years and producing more than 500,000 LOMO LC-A’s. What was left for the chroniclers to report? The Lomo wine made everyone merry, beautiful women in halter neck bikinis exhibited different camera models, poets read Lomo poetry in front of the gathered public and everyone danced until the early hours of the morning to the wild sounds of Russian folk music. The St Petersburg LomoEmbassy and Ambassador Stephanie are still involved today and remain the number 1 contact point for all Lomographic matters in Russia. Moreover, they would like to stay on board longer! Nastarovje!
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