Shooting fro m the
It is a relic of Soviet Russia. It takes blurred and over-saturated pictures. It is the LOMO camera. And it’s contagious. Words: Jack Mottram
veryone has drawers brimming with photographs of
sunburnt holiday moments. portraits of forgotten
friends and unfocused snaps of someone's wedding reception. If you are a Lomographer. rather than a run-of- the-mill photographer. these products of an unthinking click of the shutter. hastily composed. instantly forgotten are not an embarrassment. They're the desired result.
Thanks to The Arches. there are twenty new Lomographers in Glasgow. snapping tirelessly away at the city. themselves and their friends. Around the world. thousands more have formed an international community that holds an annual Lomolympics and constructs Lomowalls. Some even live in virtual Lomohomes on the internet.
This feverish art-cult activity is down to an unprepossessing instant camera from St Petersburg. the
Lomo Compact Automatic. discovered by a group of
Viennese art students. who swiftly founded the Lomographic Society to spread the word. It is not. by conventional standards. a good camera. A Lomograph is liable to be oddly saturated with colour. blurred or otherwise flawed. You don't know what you‘re getting when your finger presses the shutter release. and that‘s the appeal.
‘People like it for three reasons. I think.‘ says Fabien x‘vlonheim. Lomo ambassador in London. ‘First of all the lens gives you different results to a normal instamatic: the camera is small. portable and easy to use: and you can take a picture straight away without thinking about it. where a modern automatic camera will take two or three seconds to take the picture.‘
The Lomo isn't just a camera for everyday use. though. and to become a true Lomographer. there are ten rules to follow or break. from the all-important rule against using the viewfinder. to the final ‘Don‘t worry about any rules'.
Since I was furnished with a pair of Lomos and a year‘s supply of film. it is this last directive that has been easiest to
22 THE LIST 2%) Mar—12 Apr 20’."
THE RULES OF LOMO
1 Take your Lomo everywhere you go
2 Use it anytime. day and night
3 Lomography is not an interference in your life. but a part of it
4 Try the shot from the hip
5 Approach the objects of your Lomographic desire as close as possible
6 Don’t think 7 Be fast
8 You don’t have to know beforehand what you captured on film
9 Afterwards either
10 Don't worry about any rules
follow. I have a love-hate relationship with the camera. Sometimes. it‘s impossible to stop snapping away at all and sundry. sometimes the Lomo is a tyrant. demanding attention. The camera makes you discover interests you never knew you had: in my case a fondness for photographing my own shoes. Worst of all. the damn thing can prompt a full-blown existential crisis. making it painfully obvious that your humble Lomographefs life is unlikely to make for a montage of thrilling. glamorous images when. in January 2002. a visual diary of my days in 2()()l will be pinned to the walls of The Arches.
And that's another of the Lomo‘s charms: everyone responds to the art of Lomography in their own way. ‘I just take pictures of things I never would have done before.’ says Christine Scheuerl. a member of The Arches crack squad of Lomographers. who seems to be taking a calmer approach to the project. ‘I take the camera out with me in my pocket. and anything that looks interesting. I take a photograph. We have cockerels. so there's photographs of them fighting. I've been taking pictures of flowers. of tree bark. What I love about it is the way you can just slip it in your rucksack without thinking.’
After six years with a Lomo in his life. Monheim goes for a more experimental approach. 'I often put the camera on the ﬂoor or shoot through a toilet roll: all these methods give you a different perspective. I use it every day. and I shoot about five rolls of film a week. It’s kind of taken over my life.‘
As a taster for next year‘s Lomo extravaganza. The Arches is presenting a ‘Best of . . .‘ selection of British Lomography. Be on your guard. though. you will find these pictures fascinating. you will wonder if you should splash out on a Lomo yourself. then. all of a sudden. you'll be a Lomographer too.
The Best Of Lomo, Arches, Glasgow, Fri 6-Sun 29 Apr. For more information see www.lomo.com