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My Analogue Life: Taking Lomography to the Masses

It happens with movies. It happens with fashion. It always happens with music. And now, it would seem, analogue photography is poised to take its place in mainstream popular culture. All of the indicators are there: the recent growth and expansion of the brand, the embrace of analogue among influential stylemakers and Hollywood hipsters, and the increased name recognition of cameras like the LC-A, Diana and Holga. (My Mum even pointed out a small item about a Holga as a holiday gift suggestion in a Canadian magazine that’s, well, rather Mumsy.)

But for those of us who have been shooting film a while, the mainstreaming of analogue photography is both exciting and awkward. It’s exciting because it’s great to see so many people taking a chance, experimenting and experiencing that initial rush you feel when you know you’ve stumbled across something really, really good. And it’s awkward in that way it was in junior high when the Brit-pop band whose records you’ve been spending your hard-earned babysitting money on at the import record store on hits the big time and is suddenly at the top of the charts. You still like their music, no question, but can you love them the way you always have when every kid in class has your favourite band’s cassettes in their Walkmans and they insist on talking about them like they’ve been listening to them forever?

Yes. Of course. And maybe a little bit no. It’s a personal thing. It’s too easy to label anything popular that was once known to a much smaller group of people as a sell-out. And while analogue photography — particularly using expired films and different processing techniques — may no longer be considered “underground” or “alternative,” it can still be experimental and new — it’s all in how you use the cameras, the film, what and where you shoot, and how you push yourself to keep your work fresh.

Sure, there will be people who start shooting with analogue cameras just because they heard it was cool, but those people will be on to something else in six months, their cameras up for sale on eBay. But some newbies who heard it was cool will end up tumbling down that wonderous analogue rabbit hole and creating stunning images. I believe that if you really love it, it shows in your images and your style.

As people worldwide have come together in the last decade to bond over their analogue experiences in person, on Lomography.com and other online outlets, a unique protectiveness has developed. It’s hard not to feel possessive and proprietary of this lifestyle that has up until recently flourished quietly in a digitally-enhanced, DSLR world. And now with analogue’s growing popularity, it’s a bit like being the long-time girlfriend who finds tons of girls flirting with her boyfriend every time they step out.

Everyone will have their own response as the analogue renaissance bubbles up into the mainstream. I, for one, will never stop shooting film and playing with crappy cameras — and I’ll do my best not to be that possessive girlfriend.

How do you feel about the growing popularity of analogue photography? Share your thoughts with me!

Pamela Klaffke is a former newspaper and magazine journalist who now works as a novelist and photographer. Her column appears weekly in the Analogue Lifestyle section of Lomography Magazine.

written by pamelaklaffke

23 comments

  1. eatcpcks

    eatcpcks

    I don't really know what to think... I'm kind of new in the analog world too... Had my Yashica a year or so ago, and now for 8 months I've got a Diana and now a lot of cameras... I really love them and don't care if it's hype or not... I just hope people like my shots... Don't care too much for the moment... Here in Belgium it's still a small part of the people:)

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  2. copefan

    copefan

    well it seems film is making a comeback as fuji here in the UK are working on two new wetlabs after finishing production of them a while ago..... one of their guys said i think we jumped the gun a little stopping production as film sales are on the increase as people move from digital back to the fun of film...... I am also trying to push a large UK photo processing chain to start selling more film and to stock lomo cameras...... as I work for the company that owns them..... so analogue is the way forward!

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  3. stouf

    stouf

    There was an 'underground' feeling in the old lomography site that is pretty much lost now. But I am really happy about the democratization of the phenomenon, I am always happy to see newcomers because they are the ones who have things to teach us... A fresh eye is always bringing improvements. And it's also a simple market law, if more people want a product, the price is reducing. So good for us. : )

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  4. maxwellmaxen

    maxwellmaxen

    the more people the bigger is the chance of some new very talented photographers. i think this will come in waves (as it was and still is with fingerboarding).
    don't do anything because it is underground.. i consider doing something because it is underground as stupid. do something because you like it. it doesn't matter if you like it for 2 weeks or your entire life. just like it!
    and the ones who leave it in six months.. even better: cheap secondhand cameras!

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  5. wuxiong

    wuxiong

    This is a really inspiring article , and I am so happy to read those feedbacks too. In short, I think film is special and that's what I've always been doing , though I do very little digits. I think we needn't worry about whether analogue way of shooting will ever become popular or not. People have their own right to choose. And besides, if , one day in the future, people all the world start shooting films again, then do you guys still feel we lomoers special???

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  6. coolsigg

    coolsigg

    shooting film reminds me of my younger days 20 years ago when film was the only thing I shoot...it's good to relive the sense of anticipation and dread of "did i get the shot?" "what happens if i screw up"? shooting film requires me to think more instead of being trigger happy and fire off dozens of shots. i will still shoot with my DSLR but that will only be for assignments. for leisure and fun shots, I still prefer my rocket, spinner or LCA+ anytime!

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  7. rav_bunneh

    rav_bunneh

    I would love for nothing more than real film and real processing to come back in style. Where I live most stores have totally stopped carrying film. Those that do normally only have a single brand, Kodak or Fuji. So if more people return to film I'd be very happy because they will be sharing in a real passion of mine.

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  8. erinwoodgatesphotography

    erinwoodgatesphotography

    The increase of analogue right now is exactly what we need- if analogue kept going the way it was going, more and more labs would close down, film compaines would stop making films so we would have less choice, the long time film shooters are the people who kept it all going to the extent that is has been up to this point and the new shooters will be the ones to continue it.

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  9. erinwoodgatesphotography

    erinwoodgatesphotography

    The increase of analogue right now is exactly what we need- if analogue kept going the way it was going, more and more labs would close down, film compaines would stop making films so we would have less choice, the long time film shooters are the people who kept it all going to the extent that is has been up to this point and the new shooters will be the ones to continue it.

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  10. reneg88

    reneg88

    i don't know what it was like a few years ago in Lomography, since I only joined at the beginning of this year (Feb. 2010). But I can say that in these few months I have taken this website and the whole analogue movement to heart. I've always had trouble understand people who get "possessive" over what they really enjoy. Like you mention about a "band" going mainstream. I really don't understand why people stop liking something just because everyone else likes it now too. It seems as if the "uncool" person would be the one who STOPS liking it, because it shows insecurity, and possessiveness, and selfishness. What I'm trying to say here is, that as long as what you love, doesn't change it's integrity, or for example, the "band" doesn't change their style of music and the way they portray themselves, you should love it even more, and feel happy for them and proud, because they're finally getting the recognition they deserve, the for which they've been working so hard over the past years. So as for Lomography going mainstream, I say Bravo! And I will support them, as long as this analogue life style of ours doesn't change, and becomes corrupted (and prices don't go up just because it's popular). *wink wink* haha. I love this community/movement and I want the whole world to love it as much as I do!

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  11. reneg88

    reneg88

    oh! and p.s. I LOVE that @pamelaklaffke is writing these columns for us! =D She's a great writer!

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  12. maxwellmaxen

    maxwellmaxen

    i completely support reneg88. but the problem is: all the lame hipsters getting onto lomography and doing.. like, the shit i hate.
    i can understand that too. because i really hate that stuff. real hipsters were on lomography long before... but the "hipsters" that are getting into it now.. are just lame. for real, i mean there is a difference between being so hip you find something new or just to be a hipsterrunoff and trying to hype what was already sold at h&m a year before.
    best example is urban outfitters. funny stores, but the people that shop there are mostly crap.

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  13. pamelaklaffke

    pamelaklaffke

    eatcpcks: wow! for someone who has only been shooting analogue for about a year, you've got some great shots. keep it up and thanks for your comment!
    copefan: that's great about the wetlabs in the uk. my lab sources have been dwindling over the past few years (not one lab in my city — of a million people! — will process b&w anymore!), so hopefully this will be a trend we'll see in north american as well!
    stouf: great point about the "fresh eyes" — it's so true. and if the prices of film goes down that's great, too. thanks for pointing that out; i hadn't thought of it that way!
    maxwellmaxen: cheap secondhand cameras, indeed! there's a thrift shop where i live that sells all the cameras they get for only $1 or $2, whether they are plastic, a rangefinder on even an slr. i love it. and i agree with your comments about doing something just because someone, somewhere in the hipster universe has deemed it cool. it's a bit silly, and i can't help but think that everyone would be happier if they just thought for themselves and did their own thing.
    wuxiong: thanks for your comment! i think sometimes as something becomes more mainstream, it doesn't mean we like it less or will feel less special, since this often prompts new thinking and creativity, i've found, so even if everyone in the world started shooting analogue, i think (i hope) the lomo community would evolve and push itself into developing new, exciting products and techniques.
    coolsigg: i completely agree with your description of that "letting go" feeling of shooting analogue. i think it can make us more creative and that anticipation is exhilarating (sometimes with a little anxiety thrown in!).
    rav_bunneh: that's terrible that you can't find film locally. hopefully, this surge in analogue's popularity will help bring it back somewhat. i'm lucky in the sense that in the last year one of the camera shops i frequent has started bringing in even more film (especially 120) because there are so many more people shooting holgas and dianas here (the art college even has courses you can take using a holga).
    erinwoodgatesphotography: great point about the new shooters being the ones that will ultimately ensure that labs stay open and film stays in production.
    reneg88: anyone who abandons something they supposedly loved just because it's popular, is as you say, rather uncool themselves. i am personally committed to analogue regardless of what happens, but i think it's only human to admit that on occasion there can be just a little twinge of possessiveness. oh — and thanks for your comment about the columns; i'm so pleased you're enjoying them! i think it's great to have more discussion on the site, and it's always interesting to hear what people think about different topics!

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  14. natalieerachel

    natalieerachel

    I've always loved film cameras and photos more than digital, but I hadn't happened on analogue cameras until about a year ago when my friend got one for her birthday. I got my Holga only a few months ago and I love the thing to death. And even though I'm (unfortunately) probably one of the youngest here, I lovelovelove lomography. And I'm just hoping that some day my photos will be as good as some of yours.

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  15. maliha

    maliha

    It is true that some things feel great when they are more ... how should I put it... personal? Analog is probably something like that too. It's like saying I like The Cat Empire, and it's fun because not many people know The Cat Empire. But at the same time I feel like I would really like more people to know how amazing analog photography is. The joy of anticipation, instead of instant gratification. My contribution to that would be my new analog magazine (I don't want to look like a solicitor, but in case you are interested, you can get the link to my magazine's website from my profile). I know this will make analog photography even more of a common thing among the greater crowds, but I guess if I have to choose I'd rather have more people know about it than having analog vanish in a few years. Look at Polaroids for example. They shut down their production, but thanks to the Impossible Project guys out there now we have some hope. But I still miss the good old Polaroids, and I can definitely say that I do not want that kind of future for film lovers... I want it to grow, I want more people to start shooting analog, and I want better access to different kinds of films.

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  16. pamelaklaffke

    pamelaklaffke

    natalieerachel: i think it's great that you're so young and have gotten into analogue photography; your portraits are great and you have such a beautiful setting to work with everyday!
    maliha: that's great that you're starting an analogue magazine! let me know when it's ready and i'll be sure to pick up a copy. and i know what you mean by something being personal, but at the same time wanting (and even needing in the case of film) more people to discover it. and indeed, i miss polaroid, too, but have been enjoying my 2 instax cameras lately!

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  17. fash_on

    fash_on

    I do this because I get sooo much enjoyment from it :D It really doesn't bother me if it's become mainstream, that can only be good for us for the future availability of films and labs. I just love doing my own thing and I'm sure I'll keep on doing it. I do miss the old site, it's aesthetic, and insider feel, but change is inevitable. Also, I've been able to pick up quite a few lomo cams very cheaply on craigslist etc I'm guessing from newbies who didn't get so into it, so that's a bonus too :))

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  18. fash_on

    fash_on

    Also, the most grounding experience I have had was when I took a Photography Art History class. Then I found out that pretty much since the whole Photography thing was invented (about 1837 depending on how you judge it), photographers/artists have been playing around with the processes right since then, from the start. Cross-processing has been known at least since the sixties (according to wiki).

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  19. pamelaklaffke

    pamelaklaffke

    fash_on: indeed, change is inevitable, and great tip about picking up cheap cameras on craigslist. i've seen a lot of dianas on my local kijiji site lately, too. and while i do think that art history is fascinating and great to put everything into context, for me, there was a time where i had to move on and stop looking at and reading so much stuff. it's really easy for me to absorb style and when i'm working on a major project — whether it's writing or photography — i find it too distracting to fill my brain with outside media.

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  20. fash_on

    fash_on

    yes I agree ;) too much research can be distracting and even stifling

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  21. amyrose

    amyrose

    I really love this article, it's something I think about on a daily basis!

    I guess for me, I am unfortunately sometimes that possessive girlfriend, but a few things keep my mind open about the growth of lomography-

    Firstly, as I am still relatively new to lomography, I remind myself that if lomography wasn't growing at the rate that it is, I probably wouldn't have really heard about it in my little corner of the world.

    Secondly, lomography has completely stolen my heart, and knowing that amongst all the people who ride the trend wave, that there will be a lot who are swept away like I was...well, it makes me happy to think of other people discovering a new passion and a new way of seeing and documenting the world.

    Thirdly, I realise that if I REALLY wanted to keep it to myself, I would stop sharing the magic with people in my life, and stop encouraging my friends to buy lomos so we can go on expeditions. And really, when you can't share lomography, whether it is your hobby, passion, or career...isn't that half of the magic gone?

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  22. johann_affendy

    johann_affendy

    a well-written article! i feel the same way as you do. to me it's a double edged sword; we want lomography to spread but at the same time we will lose the exclusiveness of shooting in analogue.

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  23. susielomovitz

    susielomovitz

    Hey! Gracias @toyam por traducir esto! Great post @pamelaklaffke !!! I agree, it's nice in some way and not that nice in other, but I really don't care. At the end I think it's even better if it gets bigger. I mean, only those who "feel it" are going to stay analogue, so if there are more people "feeling it" it's better besause we'll see more "looks" and ways to shoot analogue, so we'll learn more and get more inspired. I keep shooting and playing with my cameras, as you do; I think that's the best thing we can do. MAny people have pencils, everybody have pencils!, but not everybody can draw amzing portraits, or writte poetic things. Lomography is not to have a plastic camera hanging on your neck, lomography is stay shooting and shooting and playing, and "experiencing" analogue photography.

    over 3 years ago · report as spam

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This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: Deutsch, Spanish & Italiano.