What lomographers need to understand


OK, I really seem to be one of those guys who has to nag about shit all the times. And maybe it is a good thing, maybe it is stupid, maybe everyone ignores it, and maybe, maybe I just do it to blow off steam.
Well, it is time for my first nagging blog, and I simply do this because the shoutbox would not allow me to write this extensively, and I want it to stay for a while, somehow to be found and being read over the next few years.
I have been active here for quite some time now. I know, 2 and a half years are not too long if you consider the users that have been here since forever, but for a lot of people it is a long time, because a lot of users just come here, post a few months and forget about it again. Well, this is my stand. I’ve been here some time. Period.
The past few months I discovered something that pissed me off for a pretty long time, and maybe it’s just me, but I think this development is strictly stupid.
You read articles about legendary Photographers (the one tipping me off to write this finally, was the one about the Queen using a Leica), and contemporary people using analog Film. Nothing more. And they are being called Lomographers. This makes me sick.
But, what does it take to be a Lomographer?
Lomography itself is a very narrow-minded thing. Yes, I said it. You all are hyping about creativity, freedom and so on. But good pictures that do not fit into the lomography-scheme are being ignored. Really good pictures! I don’t know, when I come over a nice Home with genius pictures and the person only has 3 likes per picture and then I compare it to uncreative and boring Lomohomes that fit into the scheme with 300+ likes, I consider it a sign of pretty severe narrow-mindedness.
Then again, Photographers, real photographers, that shoot series, or their entire work, on film are being called Lomographers is wrong. Because those are REAL photographers.
What I think is:
There are an awful lot of wannabes around. Don’t get me wrong, my minor at Uni is Photographic History, and we have an awful lot of wannabes there too!
But here are a lot of fashion-victims, that have seen an analog camera, seen the hype, came over here and went knee-deep into our community. Hey, new ones are great! But there is a bit lack of understanding, and I feel like the entire thing loses this understanding.
A photographer is not per se a Lomographer just because he uses film, a Lomographer is very rarely a real photographer, just because he shoots photos on film. This will hurt, but all those tourists shooting attractions on their iPhones are no photographers either.
What lomographers need to understand: Just because you shoot pictures on film, you are not a photographer. You shoot memories for you, on film, on frames, on prints. But it takes so much more to be a photographer.
And it’s the same thing with being a lomographer. Shooting on film does not make you a lomographer. Lomography has more to it: There are the rules, because you will not get enough attention not following them. It takes being active here (a very crucial point), but most important: You need to use the lomography Cameras. Without them, you can not be defined as a lomographer. But yeah, this turns into a completely new way of faschism.
Have a nice day :)

written by maxwellmaxen on 2012-06-02


  1. hoseun
    hoseun ·


  2. knipsomat
    knipsomat ·

    Und dafür hast Du jetzt zweieinhalb Jahre gebraucht?! ;)

  3. maxwellmaxen
    maxwellmaxen ·

    @hoseun thanks :)
    @knipsomat nein überhaupt nich. zuerst halt die wunderschöne euphorie, dann hab ich lange nix im magazine gelesen und jetzt sieht es für mich halt so aus, also ob diese welle mal wieder kommt. hey guckt mal, die queen ist lomografin! was für ein witz ;)

  4. lawypop
    lawypop ·

    i truly agreed cos im a "Lomographer" but not fully a REAL photographer yet :)

  5. maxwellmaxen
    maxwellmaxen ·

    @lawypop that's nice to read! i mean, i love photography, and i try to become good at it, but i guess i will never be more than an amateur. still i love lomography and try to shoot most of my stuff in this scheme, just because it is fun.
    anyways, becoming a real photographer would be cool

  6. knipsomat
    knipsomat ·

    Vielleicht ist es ja auch nur das lomografische Sommerloch... ;)

  7. atria007
    atria007 ·

    great words..sorry my english is horrible..i want to write a lot of things but i cant explain me ok...only say u have a reason friend

  8. clickiemcpete
    clickiemcpete ·

    I don't know Max...I think the main mission of Lomography is to sell film and analogue toy cameras. And I don't think you have to use lomo cameras only to be a lomographer. According to a recent New York Times article about trends in film LSI sells about 2 million rolls per year. Who knows how many cameras they are selling but that's a lot of film! They have said many times that they are trying to save film and it looks to me like they are doing a damn good job of taking a good sized market share. The recent 110 release is another good example where they are telling us to dust off our old 110 cameras. Do you think Lomography should be limited to pictures of cross processed shopping carts and double exposures of the sky with faces in them? I think it's much broader than that and use of all analogue cameras should be celebrated whether those resulting images look like fine art or blurry abstractions.

  9. maxwellmaxen
    maxwellmaxen ·

    @clickiemcpete, you are so absolutely right! i never said that i liked the narrow limitation in this community, and i have not said that i support that. i love the diversity, and i love to look at pictures by users like you.
    i don't think standartisation in a creative world is a good thing and this is a point where i actually think it would be nice to have a bigger diversity.
    also do i love lomography especially for keeping film alive, and also getting new old stuff back on the market, i think it takes a lot of commitment, risk and courage to do this and to keep and try (and hopefully succeed) to keep film alive. hell, how sad would it be, when we could not shoot film anymore?
    i also like how the lomography staff develops and expands the supply of "new" cameras, upgrades them and so on, hey this is nice design and it actually works.
    but let's be sincere: most of the cameras here are toys. i love toys, but there is the difference:
    actual photographers are not lomographers. the queen of the uk is not a lomographer. she may be an avid amateur-photographer, like many of us, but this does not make her a lomographer. this is what i wanted to say. it is nothing bad with being a lomographer or even take pride into that, but:
    shooting analog does not equal being a lomographer, because besides shooting with (or at least owning a lomo camera (this was the initial thought of lomography: getting an entry into the lomographic society by getting a lc-a) ), and uploading the stuff here, and so on.
    at the same time, being a lomographer does not make you a photographer. it might make you an amateur-photographer, very passionate and everything, but it does not make you eye-levelled with the legends. because to become a photographer it normally takes an education in that direction and peer-approval. most of us will never get this.
    hey, there are real artists among us here, but let's not forget: most of us are average-talented people who just like tho heear a shutter and spool to the next frame.
    could i clarify a bit? if not i am happy to try harder :)

  10. laurasulilly
    laurasulilly ·

    Interesting conversation...concerning the lomography/photography thing I can add: I actually don't consider myself a lomographer because I just don't like to chain myself to a brand's name and the given image they are trying to sell (that's just me, though)..Lomography, I think, tries to sell analogue photography and they are trying to broaden their market reach by actually promoting lomography as a lifestyle and their cameras as fashionable accessoires (how many La Sardinas are there? How many Dianas? 100+?) - so I think it's no coincidence that a lot of people who think analogue photography is just the next hip thing to do show up on here...because Lomography as a brand is actually promoting that view actively in their PR...and the "rules" and "prophecies" (functioning as some sort of advertisement, too) actually imply that Lomography and analogue photography are alike because they always talk about "digital vs. analogue" with "analogue" being brought into direct connection to Lomography.com...but if it helps keeping film alive, so what?
    Regarding the question of photography and amateurism: I also don't consider myself a photographer because I think I lack the skills (and the pro background of course). I always like to say that my passion is analogue photography (because I love my Minolta and because most people tend to think of digital first when they hear the word photography) and toy camera photography (because I can't live without my Holga, and, recently, my Diana)...This brings me to another thing (might be a little stupid): If a person using Lomographic cameras is a Lomographer, would a person using Polaroid cameras be called a Polaroider? Haven't heard that term before...So, what I am actually trying to say is: I think it's up to everyone him-/herself whether (s)he sonsiders him-/herself a lomographer, a photographer, or even make up the term Polaroider (if it doesn'already exist) and since the magazine is mainly made up of community members' articles, there are plenty approaches to that categorization on here- and some might even consider every analogue photography somehow related to Lomography, which is why they submit articles about the Queen with a Leica, Robert Frank, or anything which is of interest to them. I think I wanna stick to that diversity. And since I do, I'd really like to understand what your point of view is -as a member of this diverse community and as someone who does consider himself a lomographer- correct me if I'm wrong), so I'd like to ask: Since you say you are a wee bit put off by the article about the Queen, what exactly would you like to be different on here? What are the direct consequences of what you are "nagging about" (as you yourself put it)? Less articles on analogue and film photography in general? Articles coined "Lomography" as opposed to " Amateur Analogue Photography" as opposed to "Pro Analogue Photography"? Or something completely different? Because that's not really clear to me yet :)

    PS. Sorry for all the text, I got a little carried away... :)

  11. grazie
    grazie ·

    really nice blog Max....some good points here :)

  12. clickiemcpete
    clickiemcpete ·

    Lots of great points and insights here.... Quick, someone give the Queen a Holga and build her a Lomo Palace! :p :D

  13. maxwellmaxen
    maxwellmaxen ·

    @atria007 thank you! @grazie thanks! i mean, this is only my opinion, and yet not even all of it, so just keep telling me what you think i have wrong, what you would want to clarify or what you would want me to clarify
    @laurasulilly i think you have got it right! about me: i would not want a lot to change. i mean, i really like it here, mostly, the thing that bugs me the most is that a lot of people make statements that sound like "everyone who shoots on film is per se a lomographer" and this is wrong for me. because film-photography for me is not defined as lomography. lomography is a branched-out community for film-enthusiasts, and it is absolutely legitimate to publish articles about our passion, even if it only touches the matter remotely. because there are as many opinions out there as there are users about what should be covered and what not, and i like to see grandmasters of photography on here, even if it is not in my definition of lomography.
    in the end i wanted to put it like this: this is a great community, with a lot of super talented and cool people, you will not find a community with so much sypmathy (consider how i would have been ripped to shreds on reddit, for example), and so much original content. this is such a big upside. then we have free and unlimited space on the servers and we have easy access to a lot of cool gimmicks and rare film. what more can i ask for?
    what i'm nagging about is how there is so much weird promo and stuff on the site, that it ripps apart the site-layout, making it inconvenient to browse (what a first world problem!).
    and then the thing what bugs me: a lot of people seem to take film-photography as lomography. and this is, in my eyes, wrong.
    but again, this is just me, and one in a million opinions.

  14. laurasulilly
    laurasulilly ·

    I agree with you: film photography isn't lomography only! That's a crucial point, that's true. But given what I see on other photo pages (from big ones like Flickr to smaller ones like artlimited.net), I actually don't think that a lot of people think that on these sites and that many do know the difference between the different "genres" (if you will). I do agree that there seems to be a common ground in this community that all kinds of film photography are related to lomography, and I go along with that because I think this community and the company/brand are good vehicles for promoting film photography, and the continuous production and artistic apprehension of film. But I also think that film photography in general should never be limited to lomography only and it tends to get a little washed up on the side of Lomography sometimes.... So here we are, both sides of the coin again... :)
    Anyways, thanks for your interesting opinion!

    PS. As for the banners, sometimes I feel close to spasms when I look at them too long...

  15. stonerfairy
    stonerfairy ·

    Totally! I agree with your words!

  16. maxwellmaxen
    maxwellmaxen ·

    @stonerfairy thanks!
    @laurasulilly i just have to agree to your words. you phrase it right and give the other side of the coin justice :)

  17. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    well, I think there are many different meanings for the word 'lomography"... the one I like the most is the spirit of freedom and creativity, that came up in the digital era and gave hope to all film lovers to tell them that film is not over! In a way this kind of lomography spirit completes the history of analogue photo history and brings it further. Then there's the "toy camera" meaning of lomography: that's also something funny, but it's sure that the toy camera movement is only a little part of what analogue photography can achieve... and can't be the whole analogue photography at all! I never felt myself limited to analogue toy cameras and my love for film gives me a complete freedom to use classic TLR's (as a Rolleiflex or Lubitel), fantastic Rangefinders (Yashica GSN, Canonet or Kiev, which are in no means toys....), great SLR's (my classic OM20 or Ricoh), beautiful compact cameras (like LCA, Cosina or XA2) or cheap plastic cams as Holga, Diana or Sardina, with absolutely no difference: it's just about what kind of photography I want to create, and I choose the most adequate medium for it. In this meaning, the "lomography spirit" is not only limited to cheap plastic toy cameras but to every analogue one, from the ancient times to the newest ones... I love photography, I love film, I love cameras, and all this can be included in this "lomography" spirit without any limitation, in my opinion...
    Then, there's is the Lomography brand... and that's of course something a bit different in our capitalistic world with it's needs of marketing, PR and sales... Of course, I'm a bit fed up with all the same cameras in multiple skins/colors/editions and I don't buy any (as nobody is forced to buy them....) and the multiple promotions is sometimes a bit too much in my view... but I totally understand that this brand needs to be successful on the market to maintain and expand it's activity, the website, the stores, and all the possibility we have to buy films and cameras here, and show all our pictures for free. A lot of other sites are much more polluted by external publicity, are not for free, and don't have the same community spirit we have here... So I don't really know the difference between a lomographer and a photographer, but the most important for me is the spirit in which you shoot, whatever camera you have in your hands... don't forget that the photographers work is made in his eye, and what you have in your hands is just a tool... having a lomography camera in your hands doesn't make you a lomographer, and having the latest hi-tech digital cam or the best Leica in the world doesn't make you a photographer neither if you have nothing to express or to say with your eye ...

  18. iidiko
    iidiko ·

    @maxwellmaxen egal wie sich die Prozess, wie man zu seinem Foto (vom Film) kommt, nun nennt, hauptsache es macht Spaß! Und wenn mit chemie Film zu schiessen gerade angesagt ist, ist das doch nur gut für (Amateur-) Fotograf und Lomograph ;) Ich könnte mich jetzt nicht spontan einer Gruppe zuordnen, aber ich stimme dir voll und ganz zu, auch wenn ich das wesentlich lockerer sehe! :)

  19. inkworx
    inkworx ·

    Just read this article, and you know what a "Lomographer" should know !


    Nothing new, nothing old, but just remember that lomopgraphy is just an invented marketing thing, not an art form.

    -- I am not a professional plumber, but I can fix the water tap. Makes this me a plumber?? --

    Think we are here cause we are al having fun with analoge camera's, films and to show off our pictures in a community. I have the same fun with my Iphone camera with hipstamatic app. (hell, my Iphone with Lomo-app produces better pics then my LC-A+, and was just $0.79).

    We are al victim of a marketing strategy here, but at least they keep the analoge photography alive. The Impossible Project does the same with the Polaroid films, And they are also growing into a marketing machine, with too expensive so called refurbished polaroid camera's. Nobody seems to care about the horrible quality of the Impossible project polaroid films, but hell, make it a hype, put it in fashion and it is well accepted . Fuji is still producing their instax instant film, with just outstanding quality, but nobody seems to care. . maybe the colors are to normal. :-)

    keep on clicking!

  20. bloomchen
    bloomchen ·

    @tomkiddo, @davideji, @nphaup, @iidiko, @vicuna, @icomewhenieatcaponata, @stonerfairy, @grazie, @atria007, @lawypop, @quaisoir, and @hoseun: i can only tell from my point of view and how i came to lomography - probably a special story of germany. when i bought my LC-A back in 1997 i just didn´t knew anything about photography but there was this german band "tocotronic" and they had those blurry shots in their cd-booklets and i was attracted by them just because they were not perfect. i liked the idea to take pics that are probably nothing else than an accident. back then this whole thing became a lifestyle - at least in my environment. just a few months later i moved to the east of germany where there were plenty of those cams around and sold on fleamarkets for just nothing. so i got my girlfriend one for 25DM (about 12€). we moved to berlin and took part in lomo-challenges organised by the embassy in berlin. and those were quite huge events i must say. i didn´t expect so many people taking part. in 2001 i took part in the "the lomographic summer super album" competition. i got back my album and still have it here and there is a number on it which says: #843! so compared with this page today with the most active lomo-users around i´d say this is a number they could not reach anymore. what i want to say is that it was sort of a lifestyle back then as it is today. nevertheless something has changed. my impression was that back then most people had fun taking pictures and following some lomo-rules, doing lomo-walls etc. today i think it has become more or less a marketing thing AND - very important - that doesn´t really go along with people around here on this page because most people here do know quite well what they are doing and have more knowledge so they just don´t buy everything which is offered or new. as i live in berlin and visit the lomostore from time to time i´m one of those who think it´s good that lomography.com keeps analogue alife but on the other hand i shake my head and wonder about all those colourful cams and the young italian girls and their dad who gets them a diana mini gold. and i wonder if they ever show up here and upload something. i guess not.anyway somehow it works and probably the young italian girls are those that allow us to use this site for free.and what i like about those using it is that people here like to share ideas and everything around analogue photography. to me this is what i would call the "lomo-spirit"! as i´m a bit older i´m a bit annoyed by meaningless things written but well: it´s just in the eye of the beholder if it´s meaningless. somebody else might get an idea out of the queen-article and this legetimates it already.
    and btw: to me someone using a lomo-cam is per se a lomographer no matter if the pics are good or not. or he/she knows what he /she is doing. everyone started like this and i still have all my rolls from 1997 and those are quite often complete crap. but to be honest: i´d really like to see more newbies and failed attemps. i like this - way more than all those pics of parties and events with people on i don´t know and which look always the same. so i´d rather watch pics and see a development of the one taking them. and a last personal note: i play in a team with guys being half as old as i am and topics, speech and behaviour is so much different that i wonder if i was like this and i think i was. andif you project this onto the lomo-site it means nothing else than there are people around with a completely different approach and with completely different topics and interest even though they are here for the same reason as you are. so just take what you like of the page - spirit, knowledge, sharing, whatever… - and leave the rest to the others.

  21. maxwellmaxen
    maxwellmaxen ·

    @bloomchen you are a hero!

  22. icomewhenieatcaponata
    icomewhenieatcaponata ·

    @bloomchen i totally agree with you

  23. davideji
    davideji ·

    @bloomchen: wise words master, you're so right

  24. superkulisap
    superkulisap ·

    Almost lost my job because of this blog and its comments! My boss caught me smiling while reading this at work. lol
    Awesome blog @maxwellmaxen! Very well written! I love @bloomchen 's comments too!

  25. stonerfairy
    stonerfairy ·

    @bloomchen @vicuna You guys have such a good words, I get your point of view and yes totally agree with that. They have to come out with fun cameras and designs and market with multiple promotions, to keep more people join the community..

    The only thing that upset me, sometimes I receive comments from the newbies/newcomers/new generation, after a few try shooting from their new plastic camera (which they fancy from the promotions) and their photos turn out underexposed or dark, they start to switch back to digital camera and condemn plastic camera. Their comments is, just for fun and much more expensive to process the film and have to wait for much more longer, and there are people like this, fall with the fancy of lomography.. and thus they only last for a few months. If only these people can accept film cameras with passion.. since photography comes in any format now.. I would love to share your comments up here and this blog to show them how much we should appreaciate film camera first since it comes before digital..

  26. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    @stonerfairy: well, there are a lot of people doing this only for a very limited time... attracted by the hype, but not really passionated by it and thus changing their mind a few months later... Since 2006 I'm on the site (uh, that's sounds like an old veteran remembering the old days, ha ha ah...! ;) I've seen appearing and disappearing a lot of lomographers, even some that seemed passionated and made a great work... but that's how it is, can't change people, only offer them the possibility to express themselves with this fantastic media that is lomography, but only if they want... the hype attracts a lot of people but the hype does never last long...

  27. superkulisap
    superkulisap ·

    @vicuna true, I know a lot (and have some friends too) who bought one of those fashionable/colorful lomography cameras and shot 1 or 2 rolls of film then suddenly or gradually quit. @stonerfairy maybe lomography isn't really for them, don't be sad about it. :)

  28. bloomchen
    bloomchen ·

    @stonerfairy @superkulisap @vicuna well, i guess we have to admit that the most active lomo-users - maybe 300 to 400 (i´d really like to have numbers from the lsi) - are somehow freaks in a positive sense. very active, very passionate, sharing and keeping this page alife. so what about all the other accounts here? i´m not even a year member of this community but i am on another different plattform and would second what vicuna said: the hype attracts but doesn´t last. on the other plattform i´m around there are many more people and they have liitle tools for everything and so it´s easy to have a closer look and follow user-numbers as there is a tool for it. same there: marketing works, accounts increase, accounts decrease after 2 or 3 months. only a few stay but the user numbers stay about the same because of the normal fluctuation. i guess to some degree it is comparable with lomography. i´d say that being passionate and staying with analogue photography if you´re new in the topic is pretty hard and i have deepest respect if people do without having had a connection to analogue before. it costs time and money and mabye even more important: you have to deal with setbacks. so the lomo-users aren´t really the target group of lomography but probably more or less a testing group. and even as testers of new products they aren´t as good as you might think because often they yearn for new products/impulses and don´t have to be convinced by the product because they do not tend to compare new products on the market and make their decision depending on others. being active they do know what they can use new producs for and if it is fun using it. and even in matters of sheer numbers there are too few lomo-freaks to set trends by spreading the word. so all the marketing has to be done in a way to attract people to analogue with cheap(er) starter models. and i think you can notice this by newer users as they buy more expensive cams with offering them more possibilities and settings the longer they are active.
    btw: just saw today that there is a colab between lomo and lee jeans. customizing and colabs are quite often a great way - in the sneaker market it´s a big thing - but it´s hard with a product that has to be used later on and then the results aren´t visible immediately and probably not the way the user thought. that´s different from sneakers you just need to wear.

  29. fabiovnova
    fabiovnova ·

    I agree with you when you say that there are a lot of good shots ignored because they don't fit lomo aesthetics, and with clickempete when he say about the good job of lomography brand in expand and renew the analogic photo cams and films.

  30. alex34
    alex34 ·

    Fascinating blog post. I think the vast majority of Lomo cams are overpriced junk, but (a) they are also usually available somewhat cheaper somewhere if you really want them and (b) the real value of the site for me is the access it gives to some pretty cool film (redscale for instance) and of course the community. The concern I have with the cameras is that many of them simply cannot make good photos-the LC-A is about the best in this regard. Of course one can argue what a 'good' photo is anyway, but for me it is one you want to look at least more than once. So people will get into analogue photography because of the novelty of the blurred or soft shots, bright colour, xprocessing and double exposures, then get bored with that and just go back to digital. In other words, I do sometimes worry that Lomo might actually end up putting more people off analogue, since they will conclude that analogue photography is just novelty blur and overexposure. Frankly I also don't think the most recent 110 films will help, this is a format that probably doesn't merit being revived. So it's a bit of a Faustian bargain in my view, but the film range available is still great and the community itself is terrific. Just my opinion.