Yes, the Lomo Compact Automat camera is turning 25. On June 19th. the first shipment of the cheap plastic camera left the St Petersburg -Leningrad Optical Mechanical Organization (LOMO) factory. Who knew the little camera would one day gain such a devoted following.
Originally manufactured to be a competitor to the cheap Japanese compacts of the early 1980’s the camera initially enjoyed good sales in Russia where it was an affordable alternative. However, as communism began to fall the Russian market was inundated with lots of cheap competition and the Lomo lost its luster.
Then fate shone its light upon the Lomo once more when some traveling Austrian students, Wolfgang Stranziger and Matthias Fiegl, ran across a second hand Lomo in Prague. They quickly fell in love with the unique–often unpredictable–photos they were able to take with the camera. They soon were selling the cameras to others and by 1992 had formed the Lomographic Society a non profit often referred to as just Lomography. Interest surged and the Lomo gained a devoted following.
Although the St. Peterburg factory has closed down, and the cameras are now produced in China, devotees are still singing the cameras praises in the digital age. Lomo photographers, unlike traditional photographers, tend to love the unpredictable quirks of the cheap camera that can produce blurry, discolored, over-saturated and otherwise “imperfect” photos.
Although I have not pulled my Lomo out in years I thought I would share with you some of my Lomo shots from the past. You be the judge. Quirky, interesting, and special? Or just plain bad? Please comment.
(click on images for larger sizes)