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Redefining the Snap Shot

Friday, July 25, 2008 Leave a Comment

Special Guest Post by Pearl Ho reporting from Hong Kong

About three years ago the term ‘lomography’ suddenly became used in everyday conversation amongst my friends and peers. Not until about three days ago, did I truly come to understand what it really is. I’ve got to admit that all throughout these three years, each time I pass by a little counter selling these oddly shaped cameras, a small voice inside my head told me to go ahead and look at them, buy one, buy one and then buy a fish eye lens, then perhaps buy the Diana Flash as well, oooh and also the red/blue/yellow flash, OH! and the little vignette maker that’s quite cool isn’t it – but that would add up to about four to five hundred US dollars. I also must admit that each time another voice in my head would be telling me “oh come on, you don’t want to be hoi polloi, fight this, fight this urge, Pearl you are totally above these silly hip trends”. So I suppose I did make a very hard and conscious effort to try to be different by not falling for this marketing ploy and only three days ago did I become truly grateful that I did.

The reason I finally decided to sit down and read about lomography's history was because I actually almost gave in to buying a Holga camera (now also owned by Lomography), particularly, the multi-coloured one because I am a superficial bitch. Like all the others, it is made with terribly cheap material but sold at remarkably high prices.

This camera first caught my attention when a friend at UVA had it round her neck while we were waiting at the bus stop. She took two photos of me without my consent and obviously that angers a typical girl who only wants to look pretty in a photo. She laughs, and then went on to expain that one should never think about it, just shoot the photo, and that would capture life as it is, beautiful, spontaeneous, a complete work of art.

However, to me that was not art. I immediately remembered my sneaky condescending attitude towards Lomography. Photography – real photography, as in not the digital kind where you can take a photo, look at it, not like it, take it again – is about composition and balance.

Balance of light, of colour, of positive and negative space. Lomography’s website, however, teaches you that you don’t even need to look at your subject matter, you don’t need to think about what comes out let alone even care to look at what comes out. I always thought that, because photography is done with film and that you can capture a moment in so many lights and angles and ways, shouldn’t you search for the best way to portray that very moment first?

You’ve got one photo to show the world something you see – you would want to think about it beforehand. I am not disagreeing with the philosophy that sometimes you DO just want to shoot and be spontaeneous simply for the sake of knowing you captured that very moment of an exhilarating and fast paced life, simply for the sake of memories. But to develop the photos, put them in a gallery and display them as art is another matter.

Editor's Note: While this craze has clearly already swept Hong Kong, I'd like to just throw a warning out there for all of you in the States; The kings of cool at Urban Outfitters are now bringing you Lomography. I just want Polaroid back!!


  • Mark said:  

    ahh I've seen these! I agree, such crap!

  • Anonymous said:  

    I mean I can understand that sometimes something artistic can come out of spontaneity, but it can't be like a genre of art!

  • bannana split said:  


  • A.A.C. said:  

    Your words will be in my head every time I snap a picture with my digital camera.

    Glad to see another Wahoo writing for PopSense!

  • popsensefan said:  

    i was about to buy one. now I will not. thanks popstaff

  • jennifertown said:  

    lomography is the sickest thing ever and so fun to use! all my friends have at least 4 sets of lomography cameras and flashes! I LOVE IT!

  • Anonymous said:  

    cool? yes

    art? nah uh

  • Anonymous said:  

    Yeah, i mean, it has the potential to produce some cool stuff, but it's so lame that they just took shitty cameras and managed to trick people into thinking it's somehow 'art'.

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