If you've driven around West Hollywood lately, you've probably seen the sign "What the hell is Lomography?" outside the Lomography Gallery store on the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Laurel Avenue. Turns out lomography is a cult of devotion to what used to be an obscure Russian camera called the "Lomo Kompakt Automat." These plastic, film cameras produce pictures with characteristics like over-saturated color, accidental blurriness, and darkened corners (vignetting), which can sometimes make for one pretty unique photograph (or what lomo fans like to call a "happy accident"). We got the chance to ask assistant manager Lindsay Hutchens of the Lomography store more about the allure of what is essentially becoming an antiquated photography process (no picture previews, waiting for film development) and what her hopes are for the Lomography Gallery in Los Angeles.
AA: What is the Lomo camera?
LH: When you say "The Lomo Camera", I assume you're referring to the Lomo LC-A. The Lomo LC-A is the camera that started the whole company, when friends and founders Wolfgang & Matthias came across an old model while on a trip in Prague. They fell in love with the camera, brought it home with them to Vienna and in 1992 formed The Lomographic Society International. In 1995 they got the rights to start manufacturing the LC-A themselves, which eventually brought about the birth of the LC-A+ and a slew of fun and creative original cameras. The Lomography website and online shop soon followed, with the world's first Lomography Gallery Store opening in Hong Kong in 2007. Our location here in West Hollywood opened February 18, 2010 and is currently the largest in the world!
AA: What does the Lomo experience offer that digital cameras can't?
LH: Lomographic cameras enable the photographer to free themselves from the expectations and interruptions of digital photography. Two of the "10 Golden Rules of Lomography" are: you don't have to know beforehand what you captured on film; afterwards either. No moment is ever lost by looking at the back of your camera between every frame and one is still able to surprise themselves upon picking up film from the lab. The analog experience is instinctive and often creates more honest and engaging images.
AA: Tell us about your planned events for the month of September.
LH: In September we have an ongoing promotion entitled "Expect the Unexpected" where we're putting interesting surprises and twists to some of our regular workshops, as well as bundle discounts on products. The full list of events is always found on our microsite. What I'm most looking forward to is our trip to the Getty this Sunday! Definitely taking a Lomographic approach with the surprise we have waiting for everyone when we arrive!
AA: What kind of connection does the Lomography Gallery want to make with the photography community in LA?
LH: We want our new home to be your new home too. We have many repeat visitors who get to try something different with each of our workshops, while still offering a fun and non-overwhelming experience for someone trying out Lomography for the first time. At the end of every month, we have a "Photo Happy Hour" where we showcase images from all our workshops that month and attendees can show work, re-connect with their new LomoBuddies, or just talk about cool things they've been trying out and hopefully pick up a new trick or two from someone else! It's a lot of fun for regulars as well as people who have just started coming in. We're also very active (and interactive) on our Facebook and Twitter pages. We like to keep people updated on what's going on in the shop, but also cool new things they should check out on the main Lomography site as well as photo or non-photo based things we're excited about going on in LA.
AA: Are there any classes or workshops people can take if they are interested in learning more about Lomography?
LH: All of our workshops have a run down on the 10 Golden Rules of Lomography, which always ends in "Don't worry about any rules." Anyone is the shop is happy to give a verbal history of the company, which is still run by the three individuals who started it in the early 1990's. I suggest people come to a workshop that piques their interest (or come to them all!) to learn about Lomography as well as get their mitts on an actual camera to experience things first hand. Our biggest event of the year, the Diana World Tour, is coming up soon. It's a fantastic opportunity to fully immerse oneself in all things Lomographic! Opening night is Thursday, October 14.