How to get started with lomography

20/05/10

The Great American Scream Machine

Some of the most amazing photographs I have ever seen are taken with cheap plastic cameras. It was not until I discovered lomography that my photography passion really developed. With my lomo cameras I feel relaxed enough to take the kind of photos I want to take. A lot of people want to try out this exciting way of photographing, but at first it seems a little overwhelming to figure out how to start. Here is your guide to get started with lomography.

1. Choose a camera

Different cameras will get you different results. Check out the kind of pictures the different cameras take on flickr. Also, read a little about each camera on the lomography website. From my own experience, I really recommend spending out on the Lomo LC-A. It takes amazing photos and feels a little more solid than the other plastic cameras. I can also recommend the Diani Mini for those who would like a small and cheap camera to bring everywhere.

Think about what kind of film the camera takes when you chose. I have a Holga that I don’t use much, since 120 film is so expensive to develop here in Norway. There are 35mm adaptors for both the Holga and the Diania if you want to have the option to use both.

Also consider other cameras. You can find most kind of vintage analog cameras (as well as cheaper lomo cameras) on ebay, as well as other stores. It is not really about the type of camera you use, you can get the same kind of pictures from any vintage point and shoot camera. See if you can find a camera at your local flea or op store!

2. Buy film

For beginners, I recommend not spending out for expensive film just yet. Be prepared to fail in the beginning! A few rolls where you forgot to take off the lens cap is totally normal.

I recommend the regular lomography film. A good ISO to start is 400, it works in most light conditions. If you want regular colored results, go for the color negative. If you want radiant, bright colors, try to cross-process slide film. Buy slide film and ask your lab to use c-41 chemicals. It gives you interesting, saturated results!

Also, if you want to go for different kinds of film, make sure you check that your local lab can develop it for a regular price. Some b&w films are more expensive to develop.

3. Shoot

Shoot from the hip! Seriously, try to follow the 10 golden rules of lomography. Everything you need to know is there. Try not to think too much, the best results are always accidents. Also try some of these ideas:

Try multiple exposures. I always get the best results with multiple exposures. It gives such interesting pictures! If you have a LC-A (or any other camera with iso settings) set your ISO setting to twice the number of your film (eg. if you use ISO 400 film, set it to ISO 800). This will give you the best results, to ensure your photo doesn’t end up too bright.

Try the splitzer. You can buy one from Lomo or make your own with some cardboard. The splitzer will save a part of your photo for the second exposure. This will give you the opportunity to divide your photos in parts.

4. Develop

Find a lab that understands what you are looking for in your pictures. If you want your photos to be as raw as possible, you should ask your lab to don’t edit anything. Most labs automatically edit contrast and saturation, and this will often take away some of the unique feel you get in your lomographs.

In my experience, you can save a lot on getting your photos straight to a cd. If you are using them online only, this is a great way of saving. Also, you could consider investing in a negative scanner. This way you can get your lab to develop and then you can scan yourself. This will save you some money in the long run.

For black & white, I recommend trying to develop them yourself in a darkroom. It is so much fun! I think everyone should try this at least once! If the task of setting up your own darkroom seem a little overwhelming, ask your local photo club if they have a darkroom. They might also host introductory classes.

5. Share

Share your photos! You can of course upload your photos to your blog or share them on Flickr. But did you know that Lomography also has a sharing facility? Here you can share your photos with dedicated lomographers. You could also consider making your own portfolio on carbonmade and sites like deviantart.

I’m also a big fan of sharing photography in other ways than online. Make your own photo album, printed photo book or hang them on your wall. What about creating a photo wall like they have in the lomography stores? I also love the idea of sharing photos with friends and family by sending them a photo in the mail. The point is basically; don’t let your photos end up in a drawer og in the wast corners of your hard drive.

A last tip: Never forget to take a back-up if you are storing your photos digitally.

I hope this guide was helpful if you want to start having fun with lomography! Remember; it doesn’t have to be costly, all you need is a simple toy camera and some film. If you are interested, but not convinced, you can find more information on lomography here: Lomography Magazine, Flickr Lomography Group, A guide to Lomography and The Complete Beginners Guide to Lomography.

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Did you find this helpful? Do you have any more tips? Please share in the comments!

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Anna May 21, 2010 at 12:54 am

hey Marthe,
For my polaroid prints, I scanned them myself and then took the files to a professional photo lab to get them printed there.

P.S. Great post!

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Mausumi May 23, 2010 at 11:54 am

Thank you for letting me know! I’ve been wondering about this for a while.. :)

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Emily May 21, 2010 at 4:40 am

I have a tip for beginners who want to save money, don’t buy anything from the official Lomography site! it is way too overpriced and you can get better deals at a local photography store or even online (through B&H, Adorama, or Freestyle). while the Lomo LC-A may take beautiful pictures, I (PERSONALLY) do not consider it a true loom camera. it’s not shoddily made! lomography is all about mistakes and I don’t think the LC-A even lets you make mistakes.

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Mausumi May 23, 2010 at 11:56 am

I totally agree, this is a great tip! I bought my holga from the lomo store and later found I could have gotten 3 holgas for the price of one at ebay.

I have to disagree about the LC-A, but I see your point. It does take the kind of pictures I associate with lomography though, with vignettes and smooth colors.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and tips! :)

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PinkBow May 22, 2010 at 12:07 pm

i would really love to experiment with some of the toy cameras but the film puts me off

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Mausumi May 23, 2010 at 11:58 am

Then you should try the digital harinezumi! It’s a digital toy camera-ish little thing you can take everywhere! It takes unpredictable and lovely photos!

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Liss May 24, 2010 at 12:46 pm

great article. I also wrote some tips on my blog for the Diana Mini,
http://www.daydreamlily.com/2010/04/lomoamigo-its-here.html

I highly recommend starting with that little gem.

this reminds me I have a ton of pictures I need to scan and add to my lomo home page, so you have a home on lomography?

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Liss May 24, 2010 at 12:52 pm

make that *do you have a lomo home? mine is daydreamlily, friend me :)

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Dottie May 30, 2010 at 4:23 am

This is great – thanks for taking the time to put it all together! I’ve had a Holga and Diana Mini both for a few months. So far I use the Holga only for B&W. I agree that the best photos are double exposure mistakes. The Diana Mini is my favorite, except several roles have snapped in half while shooting. This is kinda horrifying and makes me very nervous about using it to shoot during my upcoming vacation to France. I’d love to hear if you have any tips on preventing that.

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Mausumi June 11, 2010 at 5:02 pm

I think the Diana Mini is my favorite too.

When it comes to the film snapping, you must be very careful when you forward the film. Remember that half-frames are very small! And if it feels hard to push forward, then don’t push at all. I hope this helps! But remember, the mistakes and failure and unpredictability is what makes it fun and exciting!

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Marion Rieper May 31, 2010 at 5:06 pm

Thanks very much, I have found this very useful!

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Mausumi June 11, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Thank you!

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Rachel June 11, 2010 at 4:47 pm

I LOVE Lomography, and this post was so helpful! I’m really looking forward to getting into the darkroom and developing my first reel of film I’ve just shot!

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Mausumi June 11, 2010 at 5:00 pm

I’m glad you liked it!

And darkroom is a lot of fun! I wish I had prioritized to do it more the last year!

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Mike March 14, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Great cover, just wondering how to do multiple exposure to LC-A?

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Debbie August 18, 2011 at 10:16 pm

So helpful! :) I LOVE the vintage look of lomo but I’m awful with all the photography jargon and technical stuff. I think I’m going to start out with the Diana….and from what I’ve read I’m better going for the 35mm rather than the 120mm because the 120mm is more expensive and harder to get developed? I’m a complete novice so not looking to spend TOO much to begin with :) (Sorry if I don’t make sense all the film sizes and types make my head hurt..)

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Madison September 11, 2011 at 4:46 am

I haven’t got a camera yet and really have no experience but I’m asking for a camera for my birthday next month, fingers crossed I get one!
Thanks for your help! Now I know exactly what to ask for :)

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Ruiting (@lovelivfe) November 7, 2011 at 1:51 pm

I really love this post!!! And your photos looks really good. Love the tips that you gave, they’re very useful especially for people don’t know much about films. You make it really easy to understand. :D

I just got a Diana Mini to do more travel photography and I saw this post and confirm that I didn’t make a wrong choice.

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Mattias Olsson November 7, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Great post! If you want some film tips for your Holga, Diana or other medium format cameras, please check out my 120 film site.

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sniitz May 2, 2012 at 9:32 am

thank you for the helpful tipps and sites! i am new to lomography ^^°

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