22 November 2012
Last updated at 04:39 ET
Lomography, the analogue photography movement built round a Cold War-era Soviet camera, is celebrating its 20th birthday. It was founded in 1992 when a group of Austrian art students discovered the cameras in Eastern Europe, and were impressed by the camera's capabilities, especially in low light.
The Lomo LC-A was built by the Leningrad Optical Mechanical Association in what is now St Petersburg. Designed by Michail Panfiloff, the camera was based on a Japanese compact called the Cosina CX-2. It was intended to be handed out to Communist Party cadres as a gift.
The Lomo LC-A's abilities in low light quickly made it a favourite with experimental photographers. The shutter stays open for as long as the photographer wants it to, allowing the camera to take night-time shots without flash.
British photographer Kevin Meredith took this picture of singer-songwriter Imogen Heap on a Lomo LC-A. "It's part of a series taken for her album artwork, but this image was never used on the album - might have something to do with the fact her head is missing!"
Toby Mason uses the Lomo LC-A with cross-processed slide film, which creates a rich, dense negative with increased grain and saturated colours. "Brighton low tides reveal smooth layers of wet sand, and occur at sunrise and sunset. Getting down low, I caught this couple's dusky reflections as well as the sunset."
Uslan Cevet took this shot in an east London club. "This was taken during a private view at the Black Rat Press Gallery in Shoreditch back in May 2011, with a Lomo LC-A. It's funny how Swat [Special Weapons and Tactics] gear can make someone look instantly tougher yet at the same time hilariously non-threatening."
Photographer Emma Case uses Lomography cameras as part of her wedding photography. "This is from a gorgeous Whitstable wedding last year. We took a stroll through the town and it was the most glorious sunny day. This was taken with my Diana and I adore the colours, the texture and the slight double exposure."
The Lomo LC-A vignetting effect comes from its Minitar lens, which was not as sophisticated as the Japanese-made lens in the Cosina. Lomo also made optics for the Soviet military.
Lomography launched its first website in 1995, and two years later launched an online community, encouraging members to post and share photos several years before the likes of Flickr. It now has more than two million members.
Light leaks, overlapping frames and other accidents are all part of the charm for Lomographers. With the emphasis on shooting from the hip and ignoring the laws of composition, Lomographers relish the kind of effects other photographers would consider an eyesore.
Other cameras have been resurrected by Lomography alongside the Lomo LC-A, including the Holga and Diana cameras, plastic-lensed medium-format models often described as toy cameras.
Lomography has recently launched a range of new cameras, including the La Sadina, based on a sardine can, and a medium-format bellows camera called the Bel-Air, which functions very much like a larger LC-A. It has also resurrected the diminutive 110-format film size and is expected to bring out more films in the near future.