How well do you know the language of Lomography…? Are you a total beginner who thinks ‘vignettage’ is a type of vinaigrette? Perhaps you already know a little photographic patois? Whatever your level of fluency, this little guide should help to turn you into an expert Lomolinguist!
Lomography has a language of its own: a special set of terminology that may seem arcane and inexplicable the first time you encounter it. But it’s really not that difficult to learn, and once you start to master it, you’ll begin to think of it as the language of love!
So, let’s jump right in and get learning some Lomolingo…
A is for Apple
It begins with ‘A is for Apple’ because that’s the tradition for A-Z books (at least in English), and some traditions you just don’t mess with, my friend! But you’re allowed… no, expected!… to give them a little Lomographic twist, of course ;-)
B is for Boats
Because my personal golden rule of Lomography is, ‘Whatever floats your boat!’
C is for Close-up
Get up close and personal with a macro lens or, as used here, the close-up attachment for the Diana F+ 55mm lens.
D is for Doubles
Double exposures are great fun — and they give you twice the value of your film-frame too! Not something to be dismissed lightly in these troubled economic times ;-) Then there’s ‘doubling’ with a friend too, of course, when you get to reshoot a roll of film that’s already been shot by a fellow Lomographer. I haven’t actually done this myself yet, but, hey, I’m open to any offers, amigos…! ;-)
E is for E-6 processing
Because that’s how the good folks at Fuji and Kodak intended you to process their precious and oh-so-beautiful slide films, boys and girls!
F is for Fantasy
Lomographers don’t look at the world the same way ‘normal’ people do… their eyes are always on the lookout for an unusual subject, a pleasing composition, a different angle, an interesting juxtaposition of shapes, a harmony of patterns, a balance of light and shade, an uncommon combination of colours, strong textures and subtle nuances of all these elements in just the right proportion to create something new, something exciting, something dramatic, something poetic, something dreamy… anything that captures their fantasy.
G is for Grain
If it ain’t got grain, it ain’t analogue, and if it ain’t analogue, it ain’t no rock ’n roll to me!
I is for Individuality
I take a photo of a bicycle, you take a photo of a bicycle, he takes a photo of a bicycle, she takes a photo of a bicycle… but every shot will be different, determined by each Lomographer’s choice of bicycle, choice of background, choice of composition, framing, angle, exposure, timing, camera, lens, film, processing… the possibilities are almost endless, with each choice being influenced by the individuality of each Lomographer. And that’s what makes every Lomograph special and unique. Yes, we are all individuals! ;-)
J is for Junk food
Because Lomographers are too busy hunting the next epic shot to have time for gourmet self-indulgences, damn it! Just fuel us enough on fast food to get us back out on the road with another roll of film, baby. We may live like paupers, but our dreams are the dreams of Kings!
K is for Kodak Ektachrome
Quite possibly the best film ever made… except maybe for another ‘K’ — Kodak Aerochrome EIR — but I haven’t had the pleasure of getting my hands on a roll of that yet…
L is for Light leaks… and ЛОМО, of course!
Because Лomo Лikes it Лeaky ;-)
M is for Monochrome
That’s the fancy word for black & white, in case ya didn’t know ;-) Monochrome photography was good enough for Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Eugène Atget, Robert Doisneau, Robert Capa and Eugene Smith, among other greats, and it’s sure as hell good enough for me!
N is for NOT digital!!!
Otherwise it just ain’t Lomography, no siree no! This shot, by the way, is of my very first Lomo lovemachine: the Diana F+ ‘El Toro’ edition. Ain’t she a beauty…?
O is for Obsession
Because, sooner or later, every Lomographer becomes obsessed with collecting cameras and accessories, buying new films to try out, experimenting with funky new techniques, talking about photography with friends, checking the Lomography website 20 times a day… and taking countless photographs, of course!
P is for Piggies!
No, not the piggies that you win to get discounts on piggylicious Lomography products, unfortunately… but they’re cool too, of course! The particular piggy in this shot is one that was flown over a disused power station in London in 2011 as part of a recreation of the cover-shot of Pink Floyd’s epic album ‘Animals’, covered in more detail in my own album here.
Q is for Quirky
Lomography is not about following conventions: it’s about breaking the rules, being left of centre, looking at life from a different angle, trying new things, deviating from accepted wisdom, seeking out peculiarities and finding your own, unique perspective. The quirkier the shot, the more character it has, and that’s what makes the difference between a good photograph and a mere snapshot.
R is for Redscale
A process that involves reversing a film to shoot through the browny/red-tinted backing-layer — or simply shooting a pre-prepared roll of Redscale bought from the good folks at your local Lomography store! Either way, it produces an effect that my eyes sometimes create naturally the morning after a few too many rum and cokes ;-b
S is for Sprockets
Film is so precious to Lomographers that they use every available millimetre of it – including the sprockets!
T is for Toy cameras
Some call them toy cameras, some call them “plastic fantastic”, some call them cheap pieces of useless crap… I call them Lomo Lovemachines! And, boy, if these are toys, I wanna stay a kid forever!
U is for Unexpected
Because Lomography is about trying something new, experimenting with the untried, breaking with convention and, often, getting unexpected results — which may be great or may be awful ;-) In this shot, for example, I took a double exposure (for the first time in my life) with the Diana F+, using the 38mm super-wide lens for the first exposure, then removing the lens and taking a ‘pinhole’ shot (also for the first time in my life) for the second exposure. Although I planned it quite carefully, I sure as hell had no idea what it would look like until I got it back from the lab. The unexpectedness of the final outcome of your shots is just one of the things that makes Lomography so much more fun and exciting than digital photography.
V is for Vignettage
Those dark corners – produced by the barrel of the lens intruding into the frame’s view – serve to concentrate the eye on the centre of the image. This effect, known as ‘vignettage’, is one of the signature looks of Lomography. I find it’s easiest to achieve on a Diana F+ with the standard 55mm lens.
W is for Winning…!
… and for the tremendous sense of satisfaction you get from winning a prize in one of the fantastic Lomography competitions, like I was lucky enough to for this submission to the Tori Amos Inspiration Competition Thanks again, Tori and LSI :-)
X is for X-pro (of course!)
Cross-processing slide film using the C-41 process normally intended for processing regular colour-negative film produces wild colour shifts, highly saturated colours and larger grain – resulting in a look that is perhaps the defining trademark of Lomographic photography.
Y is for Your way
Because Lomographers are rebels who respect no rules and never compromise their individuality for anything or anyone. They look authorities and established conventions straight in the eye and say, “You know where you can stick your conformity, buster – I’m doing this my way!”
Z is for Zen
Because you need to have the patience of a Zen Master to wait… for the right moment to take your shot… for the right light… for the right weather conditions… to save enough money for a new camera or more film… for your films to come back from the lab… to upload and tag all your shots… for those first precious likes(!)… But it’s all oh so worth it when you get the perfect result in the end.
And this, my friends, is where my little A-Z of Lomography ends too. If you’d like to comment on any of the photos, or see what others have had to say about them, they’re all in my album Buckshot's Lomolphabet: An A-Z of Lomography
Over to you!
Obviously, this is my own version of the Lomolphabet, and it doesn’t cover the entire Lomo vocabulary — What about ‘B is for Bokeh’, ‘F is for Fisheye’ or ‘T is for Tungsten’, for example? So if you’d like to add your own terminology and definitions in the comments box below (with links to sample photos, of course), we can together create a complete A-Z of Lomography for the world!
Thank you for reading, and I very much look forward to seeing your submissions!