Lomography Celebrates 20th Anniversary into 2013

December 4, 2012

By Barbara Goldman

© Lomography

 Lomography celebrates 20 years.

The Lomographic Society  celebrated 20 years with a spectacular anniversary  this past November with photos, two new books, artistic collaborations and workshops that will roll out in the coming year.  The Lomographic Society is an international organization dedicated to experimental and creative snapshot photography.  Lomography promotes analog photography as a creative way to communicate and capture the world. With gallery stores all over the world, they provide a place for exhibitions, workshops, networking and products.

Lomography began in the early 1990s when a group of students in Vienna, Austria, stumbled upon the Lomo Kompakt Automat – a small, enigmatic Russian camera. Spontaneously taking shots from the hip, and occasionally looking through the viewfinder, they were astounded with the extraordinary photos the camera produced — colors that were vibrant, with deep saturation and vignettes that framed the shot— not anything like what they had seen before.  What started as a small community of friends became an astounding analog movement with over one million community members. They created a new style of artistic experimental photography that became known as Lomography and became the biggest analog camera producer worldwide. Lomography has over 50 stores  from Paris and New York to Tokyo, Beijing, Sao Paolo and many more. Over the last 20 years, Lomography has launched more than 150 creative camera models that have won the hearts of millions and has hosted some extraordinary LomoWall exhibits throughout the world.

The company has stayed true to its motto, “The Future Is Analog” by securing a hold on film production with a distribution of Lomography film and innovations within analog photography that includes a growing collection of fashion, books and accessories.

Even Vladimir Putin helped promote Lomography when the future of the LOMO-LC-A was at stake. Between 1995-1997, as the young Austrian business grew quickly and demand for Lomography cameras grew, the price per camera was suddenly raised by 50 percent in St. Petersburg. This came about with the former Soviet Union split, energy prices rising and production changing for Russian enterprises, which were now on the threshold as new venture capitalists. In order to afford LOMO LC-A production alone, LOMO PLC had to raise the price. As the Lomographers could not afford the new price, tough negotiations followed and eventually ground to a halt.  The Lomographers organized a full delegation, made an appointment with the Austrian Consul in St. Petersburg and finally sat in front of the Vice-Mayor of St. Petersburg – a man named Vladimir Putin, who happened to be friendly to the cause. The future Russian premier convinced the LOMO PLC officials to recalculate the production of the camera again and each party agreed that production of the LOMO LC-A should be maintained at all points.

The 20th anniversary celebration this past November is the start of exciting releases for the coming year in books, collaborations and workshops.  Lomography’s history is celebrated in the Lomo Life volume set of two hardcover books,  The Story and The Cameras, published by Thames and Hudson.  The two-volume slipcase is over 348 pages with over 2,900 pictures from the Lomographic archives, cataloging the past two decades. Both books feature forwards by cult English author of fiction, novels and comic books Neil Gaiman and from the award-winning independent Thai filmmaker, screenwriter and producer Apichatpong Weerasethakul. The Story retraces important moments in the 20-year history and The Cameras presents a look at all the various models released over the years.

As part of the anniversary celebration, Lomography will also be rolling out artistic camera collaborations over the next year from well-known artists from around the world. Ten artists, including Neil Gaiman, will design a camera according to the Ten Golden Rules of Lomography. The anniversary also has included a hunt for the best analog picture from the community  Lomography contestants get to submit their best pictures and have the chance to win  prizes and points for online store credit with top photos  selected for the “100 Best Lomography Photos Postcard Set.”

In true Lomography style, 20th-anniversary parties on November 30 paid homage to 1990s music, fashion, food and fads. Stay tuned for more camera launches and analog news from Lomography in 2013.