How do you define Lomo & Lomography ?

The terms Lomo and Lomography get banded around and are used interchangeably and mean different things to different people. I’ve had to think about this more recently as I’ve taken over moderating Lomography for non-snobs group on Flickr and have had to make decisions about what is a Lomography shot or not.

Live wire
Taken on a Lomo LC-A using Cross processed Lomography Xpro 200. But is it a Lomo shot ?

Oddly I think it all comes down to semantics. and I’ll divide things into Lomo (no prefix),  the Lomo and a Lomo. I’ll also divide Lomography into the rules & movement versus the commercial brand name used by Lomographische AG.

For ease I’m going to discount Lomo as the Spanish word for Tenderloin or the 2 communities of Lomo found in California. We’re talking camera gear here right ?

LOMO (no prefix)
I’m with wikipedia on this one.  LOMO is a Russian Manufacturer based in St Petersberg  (LOMO  is short for Leningradskoye Optiko-Mekhanicheskoye Obyedinenie  -or Cyrillic ЛOMO hence the designation seen on some products) who have made amongst a host of things including Camera. The company still trades today but sadly doesn’t make cameras
Weirdly this company can trace it’s roots back to 1914 when a French-Russian limited company was set up to manufacture optics in St Petersburg. It became GOMZ in 1930 and final became LOMO in 1962. 
smena 8M
Another LOMO classic The Smena 8m
LOMO was responsible for some classic FSU cameras over the years from the Lubitel series to the Smena series and up to the ubiquitous L-CA, a Cosina CX-2 copy, launched in 1984. Some of it’s products like the Sokol or earlier Leica like rangefinders may not not fit the other Lomo definitions
The Lomo
Blik on a Lomo LC-A
Lomo LC-A (with replacement cover and a Blik Rangefinder)

A term  often applied to Lomo’s best known Camera the LC-A (Lomo Kompakt Automat). The 35mm zone focus LC-A was plucked from being just another Russian compact by a bunch of Students from Vienna in 1991 who fell in love with its quirks and went on to trigger the Lomography movement and ended up running Lomographische AG who make the updated version the LC-A+ (and sell refurbed original LC-A’s). The LC-A and it’s updates have been in production for over 3 decades a production run that would have made George Eastman Happy.

The term is often applied to camera felt to be similar like the Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim (VUWS) aka the poor man’s Lomo and the Halina Micro 35 aka the Hong Kong Lomo
‘A Lomo’ & Lomography
Taking ‘a Lomo’ is perhaps the hardest to define as it essentially means taking a shot in a certain style. Most people mean following the principles of Lomography but as we’ll see that’s petty nebulous. Let’s jump back to 1991 as the term comes from those Viennese Students and the Lomo LC-A. By 1992 they’d founded the artistic movement known as Lomography Society International (LSI) and published the 10 golden rules of Lomography (in essence  don’t think just shot  and ignore all other conventions and rules – effectively including the 10 rules themselves) and the Lomography Manifesto.
Diana Mini with Fuji Superia 200asa. 2013. Lomograph shot
This has become a bit of a Marmite thing amongst photographers. Many like the free-flowing thought of taking shots without rules in an experimental fashion and it certainly caused a bit of a buzz drawing old and new back to life analogue. Others deride it as an attempt to commercialise freeform photography and a way of selling over priced lo-fi cameras to hipsters who can then take blurry poorly exposed photos and claim they are art.
Whatever you like to think there is no denying that Lomography have brought new folk to the world of film photography and in some way have contributed to the relative renaissance we have with film. Lomographische AG are one of the few companies who are still coming up with designs for new film cameras.
Lomography (the copyright and company)
The founders of LSI went on to form the company Lomographische AG and trademark the Lomography name. Originally the company sold and secured the survival of the LC-A in 1996 (with a little bit of help from one Vladimir Putin then mayor of Moscow) and later in 2005 when production at LOMO ceased secured the rights to make it and moved production to China.
The company in this century began to expand its production into more lo-fi usually plastic cameras like the actionsampler and supersampler. Camera with more historical pathos like the Diana +  arrived  and the company even resurrected LOMO’s Lubitel brand with the Lubitel +. They’ve even made a DIY SLR, the Konstruktor.
Irony shot on instagram from 2013
Diana Mini one of Lomography’s biggest sellers
The company sell their own film and at times limited numbers of FSU cameras  (both new made ones like the Horizon Kompact and vintage like BelOMO Vilia)  and other makes like Holga and Fuji instant. This has included FSU SLRs which kinda run against the Lomography principles and help muddy the definitions.
The company also offers it own film, other films and processing services.

Okay so there are some core concepts. So my shot at the top of this article is a Lomo styled shot taken on a the Lomo (LC-A) from LOMO following Lomography principles (it may have been reconditionded by Lomographische AG but I doubt it)  so ticks all the boxes.

But is this more Old School composed shot in B&W removing the chromatic qualities of the LC-A mintar lens ?

Precious load
Dumfries, June 2014 . Lomo LC-A with Ilford XP2

Where does taking a Lomo stop ?

Is this shot taken on the Poor Man’s Lomo,  a VUWS clone count ?

Non Ironed
Dumfries 2015. Superheadz Wide and Slim with Ilford XP2

I’d say yes but then what about this ?

Fixed focus Equinity VI
Kelpies, Falkirk 2015. Superheadz Slim & Wide with Agfaphoto Vista 200

Same camera but is it a Lomo ?

I don’t think you can take a Lomo shot on a digital camera even if you use a Lomography lens (happy for you to call ’em digital Lomo but they are distinct) and I personally can’t see how you could take a Lomo shot with a TLR, SLR, Rangefinder or AF camera. I’d have no problem counting a shot from a simple lo-fi camera like a Diana F+ or even a Kodak Box brownie.

Vintage on da Hood
2015. Kodak Box Brownie with Kodak Portra 160

But what about shots on a more advanced compact like the Olympus Trip 35 or XA2 ?

Graffiti Capture
Dumfries 2013. Olympus Trip 35 with Ilford XP2

Depends on how taken. For me the shot above is a no but below is a yes,  as more in line with the don’t think shoot premise

Night flare
London, October 2013. Taken on Olympus XA2 with Ilford XP2 at 400ASA

But where does the boundary sit ?

In truth I think that boundary is personal and too hard to define – whilst I personally wouldn’t count or submit my Graffiti shot as a Lomo, I would accept someone else identical shot  into the Lomography for Non snobs pool  although not if it were taken on a SLR or rangefinder.

But am I right ?

Discuss & Critique

Other views

2 thoughts on “How do you define Lomo & Lomography ?”

  1. Hello M!Well first, you need to consider which type of film you will be using. Basically there are two types of films you could use, eiethr the 120mm (a.k.a medium format film) or the regular 35mm film. This shouldn’t be a problem since medium format cameras such as Holga & Diana can be modified to take a 35 film, and to me that’s an advantage.I haven’t tried the supersampler yet. It looks mighty fun But I wouldn’t recommend it a lot since there isn’t much of modifications you can do to it unlike the Diana.As for the fish-eye camera, I would suggest getting a instead of the whole camera. This way you can have both a regular and a fish eye camera at the same time. Assuming that you live in Kuwait, keep in mind that medium format films aren’t very accessible here. As a matter of a fact, I only found one place that still sells 120s but they only had one kind film & unfortunately it was Fuji pro 160.Since you’re new to photography, I would suggest eiethr getting a or a with their (just in case you wanted to use a regular film) and get your film supply from .If you have any more questions, feel free to ask. I’d be glad to help a future fellow lomographer -Nada

  2. Just found an Olympus AZ200 buried in a drawer at my Mum’s. Thinks it’s from the mid-late 80s. Lomo or not?

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