Is this Photo Digital?


The new option “Is this Photo Digital” has created a bit of a revolt among Lomographers “Leave the Digital Grind Behind”, “No digital pics on Lomography” and “Save our analogue lifestyle”. However the Lomography store is selling lenses for Micro 4/3 digital cameras, they cannot afford to shut out the people who buy these lenses from the website. Our fear is that the digital images will take over this last bastion of film users. Why do I shoot film? It’s more authentic. However, does creating an image on film make it a more valid piece of art? I would say no.

Obviously all the images on this website have been converted to digital, most likely through scanners, however film or photo-paper has been involved in the process of the majority of the photos. Indeed photos made with digital cameras make up a tiny minority of shots on the Lomography website. I think what we, as film users, really object to is the tinkering of the image using programs such as Photoshop. The danger of post processing the photographic image using computer programs, such as Photoshop, is that these programs often remove the authenticity of the photo. However this is not always the case, depending on what you see as authentic. For example, Vancouver artist Jeff Wall shoots with large format film cameras and then uses extensive computer processing to piece together extraordinary images (check out Jeff Wall’s “A Sudden Gust of Wind” and/or “Dead Troops Talk”). Jeff Wall is on the cutting edge of contemporary art; the events he documents are powerful, authentic, and staged. Jeff Wall does not talk about the equipment he uses, this is less important than the final image.

My images, like most on this website are based in film and photo-paper, however I am proud of my digital images as well. What is it that makes an analogue picture analogue? For example, if I use a film camera to take a picture of a digital photograph, scan the negative and put it on this website, is the photo analogue? Of course not, but when we scan our negatives, and still call them analogue, are guilty of the same kind of twisted logic?

written by akula on 2013-10-31


  1. herbert-4
    herbert-4 ·

    Well said!! I have noted that it's getting difficult to get IR film. Would it be less authentic to winkle the hot filter out of my DSLR, put on a #87C and shoot digitally for deep IR photos?

  2. yago56
    yago56 ·

    At least all images in internet are digital. About 95 % of my pictures are made digital.
    Here i post only analog pictures.After eight years making only digital images i found back to my roots and make analog pictures again for my private use.
    In agencys have analog images only a little chance an most of them don`t want such images.

  3. andrus_n
    andrus_n ·

    Hi. I dont agree this that view as has defined very clearly what is analogue photography. Main difference being the medium what it is originally reorded on. Leaving not much interpretation there. Cheers A

  4. jancimusic
    jancimusic ·

    Hi, nice article! 20 years ago they said microfilm is dead. Evolutionary it was correct. Without digitizing rolls in bibliotheques or archives we would be not able to forster the valued knowledge/info, so I think digital is around us and we cant seperate us from.
    I came back to film shooting because of having back the moments of waiting for the results of my shootings, challanging my abilities to use a analog cameras, not letting my brain lazy from using digitals and full-automats.

  5. philhale
    philhale ·

    As someone who shoots both analogue and digital, I've found that I have more of a personal connection with the images I've shot on film and processed myself, however it's not stopped me shooting digital. I've actually brought a set of the 4/3rds lenses as I like the idea of shooting multiple exposure shots and not forking out a huge amount of money for a fisheye lens for my Panasonic G3. To me, they are just another photographic tool and to be honest, I can't understand the thinking between the all or nothing analogue/digital divide. Would I post my digital images on the website? Probably not as this is where I post my analogue stuff (however some may be appearing by another route ;) )

  6. alanfalzon
    alanfalzon ·

    Im not happy with this.. Lomography is about analog.. there are 1000s' of other places to post digitally shot photos.. As i see it, Lomography is loosing what it stands for.. It is backing away from the reasons it exists, to become just another photo posting site.. I loved the idea of a place were all is i have to check each image to see if it was shot digitally.. We all know that it's products were never cheap but many accepted it to helpe create this community.. Now Lomography is going digital!!!! Ridiculous.. Not fair....Disappointing..

  7. ikondave
    ikondave ·

    This product muddies the waters. I'm sue it makes financial sense for its seller, but it seems to me to deviate from the whole spirit of Lomography. It belongs on a site dedicated to digital photography.

  8. theonlydrp
    theonlydrp ·

    While I have no objection to digital photography (all images on the internet are digital, after all), I do not think it is appropriate here, because Lomography has defined itself for many years as an "analogue" movement. Lomography means film. Allowing digital photos here dilutes the brand and ultimately makes it meaningless. There are plenty of places to post purely digital images; on this website I think it is fair to demand that the images be captured FIRST on film - however I would not rule out digital manipulation of the image once it has been scanned. I use GIMP to crop and adjust exposure before posting; the same things I would do if printing in a traditional darkroom, but much faster & cheaper. Does that make my photos "digital"? I don't know where the threshold is for how much digital manipulation makes the image not "analogue" any more, but here on it should at least be originally captured on FILM. I thought that's what this site was all about. Lomography is in danger of losing its hipster cred by blatantly caving to technology market trends (want to sell gear for digital photographers because digital photography is more popular than film photography) rather than staying true to their "retro-analogue" ideals.

  9. akula
    akula ·

    I feel a bit guilty when I post images shot with my Canon EOS 300. The Canon is a film camera but just not fitting with the cheep plastic ideal of Lomography. I am often surprised by the results I get from my Lomo LC-A, but prefer the control I get from my Bessa R2. I am many photographers and I am a contradiction. I see the point of keeping this website pure, however I do not feel pure when I touch a contrast slider on iPhoto. I have a style and I am still searching for a style. I appreciate the feed back since I still have far more questions than answers. Thnak you @theonlydrp for you insight.

  10. alexkon
    alexkon ·

    I'm sorry, my english is terrible , so leave a comment on the Russian . Google translator to help you.
    Я уважаю старания старожилов этого сайта сохранить старую школу пленочной фотографии. Вы молодцы!
    Мне как начинающему любителю очень нравится дизайн, функциональность и цена современных цифровых компактных и ультра компактных фотокамер но в тоже время мне очень нравится стиль работ представленных здесь. У меня нет собственного стиля, я сейчас подражая Вам, профессиональным Ломографам, я пытаюсь понять свою технику, узнать что она может а что могу я? У меня нет шедевров и поэтому я легко удалю свои цифровые фотографии, если мне кто то напишет об этом.
    Честно говоря, это первое сообщество в котором мне не стали советовать приобрести «правильный» зеркальный фотоаппарат. Я Вас всех за это обожаю!
    Может быть просто пришло время придумать "другую, цифро-мыльную Ломографию формата 4/3 и меньше ", для чайников, типа меня и не поднимать больше разговоров на тему @akula: "No digital pics on Lomography” and “Save our analogue lifestyle" ?

  11. akula
    akula ·

    @alexkon Perhaps the solution is to set up another Lomography web sight dedicated to digital only and to keep this website true to its roots. You are right to point out that this website is free of camera snobs who will tell you that your camera is not good enough. I to appreciate the style and look of “true” Lomography. In my short time as a member of this community I have learned a lot from looking at the photographs and getting feedback from both experienced and the new Lomographers. Note: My Russian is terrible even though I use the name “akula” (акула) and learned to speak a little Russian when I was a Fisheries Observer on Russian and Polish Hake Trawlers back in the 1980’s. I love the generosity and hospitality of the Russian (USSR) people I have met. I am looking forward to the Sochi Olympics and know the Russian people will make the world proud.

  12. alexkon
    alexkon ·

    @akula It is possible to look at this question on the other hand, on mine already musicians closed long ago a similar question. They simply play a rock music classical instruments and classical music electric guitars and synthesizers, as a result all of them equally play music.
    PS: My wife by birth on a half the Pole. But unfortunately neither it nor I don't know Polish. =)

  13. dopa
    dopa ·

    ... i feel so dumb at this moment: I have a so strong opinion on all of this, but my knowledge of english ist too bad to share it probably... :( I'll give it a try:

    I can understand people who want to use the experimental lens kit and want to publish the taken pictures. for sure the lenses are technical brilliant and fun to use, i would never blame someone who would do this, at least they are lomographers, too. What I can't understand or rate high is lomography to publish a product like this.... I'm into this for a halve year now, 6 month in which i read slogans like "the future is analog", "leave the digital grid behind" and "buy film not megapixles". on is still a category called "Analog Lifestyle"... so I guess the others feels something like me... to got snubbed. Sure, you can take digital lomograpic picture, you can also buy your wife flowers at the gas station and you can even get a salad at McDonalds.... if you dare :)

  14. kevinhodur
    kevinhodur ·

    Sounds right to me. I mean, it's degrees of analogue, right? I'll admit right up front that I turn on the dust and scratch filter on my scanner: my house is dusty (despite our best efforts), and I don't have a great place to dry negatives. So I do that. I tell myself it's the only digital tampering, but really, outside of running around and showing random people my prints, I'm thankful that digital lets me share.

    Some of the revolt seems to be coming from the fact that, with film, we were also encouraged to shoot the everyday. The mundane. To see the beauty in that simply, and to be surprised by the results. The fear, of course, is Photoshop taking over. I don't know about the rest of you, but my shots wind up grainy enough that I know I haven't f'd with them. And I like my pictures. Most of all of yours, too.

    I'm developing two rolls of 120 tonight, and I'm really looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to sharing them, too. Degrees. We have to hold onto the spirit of why we came here is all, and even if we leave, we should take that same spirit of capturing glimpses of our everyday lives with us.