20 Years of Awesome: A History of Lomography Cameras

This November  marks the 20th anniversary of Lomography, the community dedicated to only analog photography. Though it seems that digital photography and apps like Instagram are today’s photographic norms, but film is alive and well. Don’t get me wrong—we all love and use digital photography and Instagram, here at Lomography. I like being able to share photos right away and quickly capture the little details of my everyday life, or capturing something crazy on the streets of NYC.

Then there’s the ability to retake photos over and over again, and get even more creative with filters or programs like Photoshop—this is the point where I personally lean toward the charm of analog photography. I like to go on with my day instead of reposing a million times, and delve into my warm toasty sandwich, instead of having to wait for my friend to snap the perfect photo of our meal (come on iphone, you can focus faster!). I love taking a photo with my Diana F+ and not being able to see the results on a screen right after. The process of dropping off your film and waiting to get the photos back offers a nice break from the instant gratification we’re all so used to.

I’m by no means a professional photographer, but Lomography’s free-spirited approach and belief that “mistakes” can create the best photos, makes the process fun and gets rid of self-consciousness. As the last of Lomography’s 10 Golden Rules says, “Don’t Worry About the Rules”! Aim for super saturated colors with an xpro film on a sunny day, or just grab whatever film and camera you have close by and see what happens!

When I get my photos back from our lab, I love seeing pictures I don’t even remember taking or the happy “accidents” of multiple exposures. Sometimes it’s nice to actually hold photos instead of having to scroll through an endless archive on a screen. There is still nothing more exciting than those few seconds before I open an envelope of photos (warm toasty sandwiches take second place).

Lomography’s history embodies the same spontaneous spirit. It all started when a group of students in Vienna, Austria were traveling in Prague and stumbled upon the Lomo Kompakt Automat – a small, enigmatic Russian camera. Mindlessly taking the shots from the hip, they were astounded with the mind-blowing photos that it produced. The colors were vibrant, with deep saturation and surrounded by vignettes that framed the shot. The word at home spread quickly and soon friends wanted their own Lomo LC-A.

With increasing demand of that single Lomo camera, they flew to St. Petersburg to work out a contract for worldwide distribution. Soon, the 10 Golden Rules were set up, followed by Lomowall exhibitions, world congresses, parties, collaborations and events. New products, film, and accessories were created. Lomography.com served as the communication hub for Lomographers worldwide (way before Flickr and Facebook!). Before we knew it, Lomography Gallery Stores started popping up around the world.

Today, we’re just as dedicated to the playful combination of lo-tech and hi-tech analog photography. Capture literally everything around you with the Spinner 360. Make your own short film with the LomoKino. Slip a Diana Baby 110 into your pocket. Design your own camera with the La Sardina DIY (or win one below!). Even if you mostly shoot digital, try to make a little room for some analog love and see where it takes you!

Image via ShutterStock.