Commoditising Creativity


The new “Purple” is supposed to create effects similar to the iconic Kodak Aerochrome, a color infrared film that was originally designed for military purposes.
Lomography’s new film is not a true infrared film but emulates the look (with notable differences) by using a color shift.
One of the reasons for that was that the Lomography community wanted an easy to use film that did not require the use of filters and would be more predictable and easier to develop than Aerochrome.

In a way that is my problem. I’ve got five rolls of Aerochrome in the freezer waiting for the right time, the right camera, the right level of skill on my part. I know that I need to be more careful with this film, I know that I need to prepare, and quite frankly that adds to the appeal.
The IR look of Aerochrome is quite unique – which is what makes it so great. However, it is also so unique that it could easily become too much if overused. Such it is with many special effects and techniques: cross-processing slide film is a notable example of this. I like it, I did myself but is become so overused for my taste that I started to find it boring and wanted to not do it for a while just be able to become excited about it again.
Now I can imaging everyone getting that new Purple film – no wonder because it is cool. It is similarly cool and unique in looks as was Aerochrome. But it will be so easily accessible that its uniqueness will vanish. It will become commonplace, and boring, and shallow.
Come July, will turn purple – which is okay. People should do what the gives them joy. Whether it truly is an expression of creativity or simply the analogue equivalent of popular Instagram filters is another matter.

written by carsten-schmitt on 2013-01-30


  1. kevinhodur
    kevinhodur ·

    I agree that, around here, it certainly won't be unique. There will be galleries galore. But there are also sites and scenes I want to shoot with this film, and that will keep me excited about it. It's a mixed-bag, and will possibly/probably be a fad. But that won't keep me from buying a five-pack!

  2. djramsay
    djramsay ·

    I too have several rolls of Aerochrome in my freezer and that will still be unique but i really cant wait to get out in the sun and fool around with something purple :)

  3. carsten-schmitt
    carsten-schmitt ·

    @kevinhodur @ djramsay You're right guys. I don't want to come across as a terrible snob, and I'll probably give film a chance. It's just that I had that strange reaction after the first "Aha!" had worn off.

  4. kevinhodur
    kevinhodur ·

    @carsten-schmitt: I definitely don't think you came across as a snob. Overexposure of anything (ha! photo pun!) can harm the wonder in just about anything. I guess it's a question for everyone, once the rush of purple hits, if there are things we want to shoot in purple, or we just want to shoot in purple because we can. The former hints at longevity, the latter a fad.

  5. mafiosa
    mafiosa ·

    I can definitely relate to all of your comments. I too have some Aerochrome in my freezer that I am saving for special occasions (and it cost nearly a fortune to obtain). However, I also do appreciate that Lomo has made an effort to try to duplicate the effect in a very cost effective and easy-to-use way. I am looking forward to experimenting with this film as much as I experiment with all other film. I just hope it lives up to my expectations. Based on the example photos that have been posted, I have very high hopes.

  6. traaaart
    traaaart ·

    I agree wholeheartedly with your points about overusing these cool effects we've all learned through lomography and i'd be especially irked as well if i had some coveted aerochrome in my freezer waiting for that perfect day. On the other hand, i will probably buy some of the purple eventually just so i can try it in the spinner and underwater and lots of other experimental uses, simply because it is WAY easier than infrared to use. It would be a total waste to put aerochrome in the spinner (if you could even find it in 35mm) but would be way less wasteful to use the purp in it!

  7. carsten-schmitt
    carsten-schmitt ·

    @traaart Don't get me wrong: I think its cool to have something of a replacement when the Aerochrome is finally gone (or has been sitting too long in that freezer, because no day was ever perfect enough). I am looking forward to seeing your purple panoramas and UW shots. As @kevinhodur pointed out - it's okay if you have things you really want to shoot in purple. :-)