Is Lomography art?


First off is photography art? In a word, yes. However not every time I push the shutter release am I making art, indeed most of the time I push that button I am aware that this is a just a snap shot, or a pretty picture, not art. Is it craftsmanship that makes it art? There is a certain amount of “craftsmanship” to analogue photography, however the same could be said of digital photography and Photoshop. The truth is the equipment you use does not determine weather or not you have created art. So, to answer the question, Lomography can be art, however out of the approximately 4000 photos uploaded today, how could anyone consider them all art? Of these 4000 photos, how many could be considered to be “high art” (or worthy of display in an art gallery)? Is art even what people are striving for on this web site? This web site is an interesting example of the ubiquitous nature of the digital image, lets not kid ourselves, the negatives or prints are scanned to digital files to be uploaded onto this site, no matter how analogue you feel, this is digital. So were does that leave us? Since I am still trying to find my way, I will leave you not with an answer, but with a snap shot and an art shot.

Credits: akula
Credits: akula

written by akula on 2013-08-10


  1. andrus_n
    andrus_n ·

    Lovely idea. I would add that it becomes art in the viewers eyes not the makers. Cheers.

  2. metaluna
    metaluna ·

    We are all finding our way and Lomography is one of many vehicles used to advance this quest. Lomo is my art therapy that I shear with the the world. Thank you all that travel with me.

  3. ikondave
    ikondave ·

    When we engage in discussions as to what constitutes art and what doesn't we are treading in dangerous waters. Art is the byproduct of an individual's creative impulse. Just because others might fail to appreciate her/ his intent, does not negate the validity of the endeavor. Often viewers of art do not appreciate works because they do not understand the "visual language" or the art historical context in which it was conceived. Today "Outsider Art" is highly collectable and valuable even though in many instances it is primarily decorative in nature.

    The visual arts contain and endless variety of permutations. The quick snap of a camera's shutter is no less a valid study than a quick sketch.

  4. camerao
    camerao ·

    WORD, metaluna, very simple: art, for me is a feeling, not a diffination, so let's travelling on together with our beloved unperfekty plastic lenses

  5. camerao
    camerao ·

    post to post: If took a picture to an exibition, and people needed a lot of wise words and senteces to declear, why they loved my picture, I always had the feeling, that I've done something wrong.
    Very interesting blog, akula, thanks!

  6. titaniummike
    titaniummike ·

    Hmm..touchy subject, akula :) In my opinion, to ask if Lomography is art, could mean Lomography is something else from Photography? A few decades ago, Photography was not even considered an art form, possibly because of it's reproducible nature. But even that has been embraced as 'art' now, as long as the original photographer made the print himself, in small quantities, signed (and preferably dated). Only these photographs fetch considerable amounts of cash at auctions, and are shown in 'respectable' galleries.

    Is there then a difference between a quickly shot image (snapshot?) and a carefully staged, planned and elaborately executed image? Work from Garry Winogrand (thousands of randomly shot street photographs, mostly from sitting in his car and just driving around), Henri Cartier-Bresson (decisive moment, waiting endlessly for that one fleeing image), Erwin Olaf (elaborate, 'polished' and staged sets) are all considered art, yet they are worlds apart and originate from entirely different approaches.

    Cartier-Bresson for example did not care what he used to shoot with. Anything would do, camera as well as film. Technique was also less important, as long as you 'know' your equipment well enough to use it comfortably. Hence, he did not always know how his photographs would turn out (there's a nice documentary on this: The Impassioned Eye). Isn't that, in a nutshell, also what we see a lot of on this website? Using anything that can take a photograph, loaded with any kind of film, and fingers crossed to see what the results are?

    If there's a parallel to be drawn between the approach of world-famous photographers and photography nowadays by anyone who is interested and can handle a little box that goes 'snap', then who is to say "Lomography could not be art"?

    My apologies for any assumptions I might have made in this reply! :)

  7. titaniummike
    titaniummike ·

    And to give you an example: this photograph was made by Edward Steichen in 1904, and sold at Sotheby's New York in 2006 for nearly 3 Million US$. Tell me, at first glance, how different does it look from many other photographs we can see on this website?


  8. buckshot
    buckshot ·

    Indeed, your question stirs up murky waters, akula!

    To answer it without venturing to impose any definition on what's art and what's not (people have failed at this for centuries, and I am certainly not qualified to advance that argument), I would say simply that, no, Lomography per se is not art, but individual Lomographs *can* definitely be considered as art. The same goes for photography in general (whether analogue or digital), as well as for paintings, movies, music, sculpture and all other art forms.

    It depends on how you look at an individual photo: if you look at it as a snapshot, you'll see a snapshot; if you want to look at it as art, you'll see art. Taking the Steichen example @titaniummike gave (link here: ), most people would probably just see a rather uninteresting and poorly executed snapshot. However, if you seek to perceive a higher artistic dimension to it, it's there in abundance. For a start, it has a wonderful, brooding moodiness that makes the subject matter open to interpretation in many possible ways: is it darkness at the break of dawn? the rising of a new hope out of the melancholy of the past? Or the opposite: a near-total descent into nothingness? Is it about dark mental states? Insomnia? Innocence and purity? Or something emblematic like the slow rise of mankind from the primordial funk of evolution? The fact that it can be interpreted in so many ways makes it a strong candidate for a piece of art over a snapshot, in my opinion.

    Similarly, akula, your 'man with gun' shot seems to be telling an open-ended story of some kind that is only hinted at, but is left to resolve in the mind of the viewer. For that reason (along with the aesthetically pleasing composition, colour and lighting), I would consider it a piece of art - a pretty high one, actually! The grazing horse, on the other hand, is primarily just a pretty snap, the way I see it (but I wouldn't stop anyone calling this art too, if they want to).

    The vast majority of the shots we upload to this website are in that category of 'pretty snapshot', I'd say, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that: we'd all just stop, or leave the community, if we didn't derive some kind of satisfaction from what we see and do here, wouldn't we? There is definitely also, however, a smaller number of shots on here that I think are certainly worthy of the moniker 'art'. It's just unlikely we'd ever all agree about which shots are in which category, though ;-)

    Thanks for posting this thought-provoking blog entry, akula, and it's been a pleasure reading the responses others have posted too.

  9. asharnanae
    asharnanae ·

    I'd have to say that in popular perception it can be the context of a thing. If you see a pile of bricks in a builders yard, it is just that, a pile of bricks. But put that pile of bricks into an art gallery, give it a name and call it art. Then it is by default seen as art. Same goes for the snapshot in a photo album and the photograph on the gallery wall.

  10. mnella
    mnella ·

    Of course you are right in saying that the choice of technology chosen for taking the photos does not automatically make something art. Art can and should be created using all possible tools.

    A counter-question: Could we consider Lomography as a whole as a collaborative art project, in which the overall effect transcends the trivial nature of the parts?

  11. fartstorm
    fartstorm ·

    Art is whatever you can get away with.

  12. hervinsyah
    hervinsyah ·

    Lomography is not an art, Andy Warhol is

  13. neonlights
    neonlights ·

    I think it can be art, as cinema was not art until the real artists show at the world that it could be so. The important is if you are an artist. Many artists have worked on polaroids, for example, and wow, THAT polaroids are ART, not mine. :D

  14. mushbrain
    mushbrain ·

    “Life is your art. An open, aware heart is your camera. A oneness with your world is your film. Your bright eyes and easy smile is your museum.”