In the age of digital technology, or any advances for that matter, there are always those who venture out creating art for the masses in a retro kind of way. With readily available digital cameras and cam phones, film-based photography is having a heyday with lomography.
There are a lot of ways where film is used in creating art. Film is still used not just in still photography, but also in movie making. The economics of film is against it going back to the same level of popularity. Rather, it is the cost of digital media, which makes any film comeback from ever happening. Whatever the case, there has been a renaissance in the use of film-based cameras, in weird and cool ways which are both retro, and avant garde at the same time.
As an example, my cousin lives in a small town in Alabama. He is a specialist in photography and does work for with law firms and law enjorcement. He takes pictures of crime scenes and of accidents and manipulates the exposures of the pictures to bring out details that otherwise couldn’t be seen. He even used lomography in a large case with a trial lawyer firm on one occasion.
Lomography had its start in cheap easy to use cameras during the 1990’s. Even as the high-end camera market went digital, the users of lomography specific cameras increased. Today’s lomography enthusiasts are no longer limited to the fixed lens instamatic types film cameras. There are now sub-genres of lomography. There are those who use older classic SLR and Twin-reflex cameras, viewfinder cameras, polaroid cameras, as well as panoramic cameras.
Lomography camera technology and thinking has also looped back to DSLRs with the recent release of the Petzval lens. This lens was created from the old design of slotted aperture lenses. However, the main selling point of the lens, aside from being made from copper, is the circular bokeh of the resulting pictures. This is not a lens for everybody. Its focusing is too soft. Setting the lens is not just manual, it is too archaic; you have to fit the slot into the lens to fix the lens’s aperture. It gives manual focusing a wholly new definition.
However, lomography is not just about the technology being used. It is about creating one of a kind pictures that cannot be reproduced even if the photographer wanted to. Various techniques are used which would sound crazy even before there were digital cameras. These include using expired film, or using chemicals on the unexposed film, as well as other techniques which can damage the film, and result in pictures where the distortion is part of the desired effect.
There is not a single school of thought or a single binding theme to what lomography is. What it is not, is staid, straight, and logical. The resulting pictures usually have a surreal effect, or an outstanding feature like exposed film sockets, or a single roll panoramic shot. Some techniques are done on the film before it is loaded, while others are done during processing. Still other techniques make use of special cameras, outfitted to create a specific effect.
Lomography has become a legitimate art form, and has followers and practitioners all around the world. It is even used on the web by this search engine optimization expert for their images. It is definitely making a comeback from it’s humble beginnings in the early 90’s. It may look technical, even when it is not. It puts the art of photography back in the hands and eye of the photographer.