For some reason, I’ve always found the desire to go lo-fi with creative pursuits almost annoying. This is especially true in the case of music. When I had my first bands, we only had analog synths and tape at our disposal, and it was dreadful. Getting devices to sync up, recreating an exact “patch” on a keyboard, the terrible compression and frequency response – why someone would seek out this stuff ON PURPOSE has always escaped me. But for some reason, I’m a little more willing to give it a shot when it comes to photography. The first camera I ever used was one of those crappy cube shaped Kodaks, a Hawkeye Brownie. One of these little babies, which can strangely be found for about 40 bucks without much trouble:
It was fun, but I quickly outgrew it, and my first “serious” cameras were a vintage Pentax Spotmatic with a broken light meter, and an Olympus OM-1. I actually did some decent photography with those cameras, but any evidence of that – if it exists at all – is probably buried somewhere in my long-ago ex-girlfriend’s attic, in the form of negatives and contact sheets. Fast forward a bunch of years, and the next time I thought about getting into photography, digital SLR’s were widely available, but still pretty pricey. When they finally hit a price point I was comfortable with, I picked up a Canon Rebel, and suddenly, I hated taking pictures. I’m actually a tech-savvy person, so the cumbersome menus weren’t the main problem. It took me a while to realize that the actual feel, the heft of the thing, was a big part of what made shooting suddenly unappealing for me. But that still wasn’t the only thing, I later realized.
I’d been doing digital image editing for quite a while at this point, and often when I looked at professional photographers’ work, all I could really see was good editing. To this day, there’s a certain sterility in a lot of the work I see, and this seems aggravated by the overwhelming pervasiveness of photos in general, and the ability to tweak them in various ways with cookie-cutter filtering apps.
Lomography To The Rescue?
Probably not. But having realized that the main thing that was getting in my way was a bunch of hardware, software, and the “thinkiness” that goes with it all, I decided to just do something FUN. In spite of the fact that half of anything you read about Holgas or Lomography descends into what is essentially a viral, mildly nauseating marketing pitch about “just letting go and having fun”, I decided I might give it a shot, since I don’t feel like doing something even more pretentious and old school, like winding 120 film on the 620 rollers in a Brownie Hawkeye. Below are a few selections from the rather overwhelming offerings, because frankly, the Lomography website itself makes it seem like there’s a lot more going on than there is. Which is still kind of a lot, but the basics are: square or wide? Instant or not? Weird effects like sprockets, fisheye distortion, and split frames? Or just the basics? This narrowed the field a lot for me, because I either wanted a normal-ish square or wide format model, and thought maybe an instant camera would be fun.
For Lego Lovers
If you’re a Lego fan, or if you miss the reassuring sensation of twisting model parts from styrene trees you enjoyed when building models as a kid, the Konstruktor is probably the way to go. It’ll also give you extra hipster cred when someone inevitably asks about the thing while you’re shooting, when you can say “Yeah man, I built it myself”, as you take another vape hit and sip your craft bourbon.
Foodies & Fashionistas
This little baby will look super cool laying on your kitchen counter as you chop ingredients for your Chicken Tikka Masala, and when you’re out in public, the Lomo Instant Marrakesh’s bright color will scream “Look at me! I’m a Lomo Sapien hipster!” Also, the results are instant, and you probably have issues with delayed gratification, so go for it!
Beardos & Herringbone Lovers
Still using your grandad’s vintage leather Samsonite luggage because it matches your beard and your Herringbone coat, but wishing that the SX-70 that was inside it when you found it still worked? Wish no more. The Belair Deluxe Jetsetter captures not only the look of the original Polaroid SX-70 , but the hint of steampunkery you crave, by mimicking even older Polaroids in appearance. Which is ironic, because it’s not an instant camera!
For The Impatient Beardo
The Lomo’Instant Wide Central Park captures most of the vibe mentioned above, but with instant gratification.
But No, I’m Serious. And Rich.
The LC-A+ Camera Pack looks like the smart, no-nonsense version of a Lomo, but according to reviews, it’s just a really expensive plastic camera. So if you’re a wealthy and respected member of the community, this is the one for you. The restrained design won’t make you look flip and frivolous, and the high price will make you feel great about your purchase.
What I Actually Bought
I could see no other logical alternative. I knew if I just bought the cheaper models at around 50 to 100 bucks, I’d kick myself for the limitations they’d have. And I’m really not looking to make a style statement; in fact, I have to say I really hate the Robin’s egg blue. But the Diana Deluxe Kit has almost all the doodads you’d want to mess with, and if you want instant, the instant back is only about 90 bucks.