The term Lomography comes from the name given to the Soviet cameras Lomo, which were mass produced during the Cold War to document the Soviet lifestyle, as seen by the people actually living it.
In the 90s, the "western" world discovered the Lomo cameras, which quickly created a culture all their own, of urban daily life, whose motto was taking spontaneous pictures, with no limits or boundaries. The art of taking photographs with a Lomo consists of shooting the camera at random, in an unpredictable way, and its genious comes from that very same characteristic: Lomography is not staged or produced, it is just taking pictures of everyday situations, a state of constant voyeurism.
Here's the history of Lomography:
In the spring of 1991, while on vacations in Prague, two students from Austria, Mathias Fielg and Wolfgang Stranzinger became acquainted with an odd camera called LC-A or Kompact Automat, which almost looked like a toy. Using it, they soon found out that the film developed showed perfect images, whatever the way they were taken. When they took it apart, they realized its secret: a lens with an unusual definition which, due to its great luminosity, allowed for pictures to be taken even at night, with no flash.
The Kompact, gifted with a wonderful screen and a device for quick focus, also has an automatic exposure system, which keeps its diaphragm open until it gets the right exposure, which can take up to 30 seconds or more. The characteristics of the lens also produce an unmistakeable feature: a circular dark halo, like a frame.
In 1992, out of enthusiasm, Stranzinger and Fielg founded the "Lomographic Society International" and spread the extraordinary features of this gem all over Europe. A movement called "Lomography" was soon generated.
Lomo has a political background: it's a gem from the extinct Soviet Union and was created in 1982, when general Igor Petrowitsch Kornitzky, right-hand man to the USSR Minister of Defense and Industry, lover of photography and amazed by a small Japanese camera, ordered from the director of Leningradskoye Optiko Mechanichesckoye Obyedinenie, the mass production of small cameras, easy to use. The idea, which proved to be brilliant, consisted of placing them on the domestic market, so that the Soviet people could candidly capture moments from their everyday lives. From then on, the Lomo became a strong tool in Soviet propaganda and the Leningradskoye released the Lomo LC-A or Kompact Automat, which was sold not only in the Soviet Union but also in Vietnam, East Germany and Cuba.
Some of the other Lomo models, that have since been the delight of photography aficionados, have been rather unusual: some can photograph a difference of up to two seconds by photogram, some have flash, some don't, others can fragment a picture into 4 or 9 frames in the same photogram, into consecutive takes from slightly different points of view and other scarcely even have a screen, which makes it hard to have any sort of control over the end result of the photograph, with the creation of unpredictable images, and very interesting results.
In 1994, the Lomographic Society International promoted its first big event: a big international exposition, simultaneously in New York and Moscow, displaying murals with over 10 thousand Lomographs, that pictured the daily life in both cities. In 2007, the LSI was asked by the city of London and by the London Design Festival to inaugurate the year's festival with an exposition: a portrait of London in photographs, the LomoWorldWall exposition, from 17th to 23rd of September, which showed over 100 000 pictures in Trafalgar Square.
Lomography is unstoppable, with several Lomographic embassies spread all over the world and a growing legion of fans. Lomography is a new approach to the art of voyeurism, working towards a goal: the LomoWorldArchive, a visual log of the world, thanks to the work of Lomographers from the entire planet.