Let’s start by saying “Film is not dead”. Now that, that’s out the way, it turns out that Russian President Vladimir Putin – then deputy mayor of St Petersburg – helped the Lomo camera become the retro cult classic it is today.
The story starts back in 1991 when digital photography started to take off. A group of Austrian art students on a trip to Prague walked into a camera shop and found a plastic camera, all manual camera. The camera was of course a Lomo LC-A – Lomo Kompact Automat. Built by Leningrad Optics and Mechanics Association (LOMO) in Soviet-era Leningrad.
The students developed the shots and found pictures unlike anything that they have ever seen before. There was intense vignette’ing, rich saturated colours and dramatic contrasts between light and shadow.
Skip along a year, to 1992 and the students and there friends who had also gotten hooked on the analog Instagram, developed the Lomographic Society International, exhibiting shots from these unwanted Lomos found all over Eastern Europe.
In the mid-90’s after running out of their supply of Lomo’s, they went to the camera manufacturers still making optics in St Petersburg and persuaded them to produce more Lomo’s. This is where now Russian President Vladimir Putin comes into the story. The negotiations to get production started again were helped along by the then Deputy Mayor, Vladimir Putin.
On the 23rd of November, Lomography celebrated it’s 20th anniversary.
So there you have it. Vladimir Putin may have helped to save film photography. Perhaps not the medium/large format type but at least the smaller 35mm form, and who knows how much Lomography inspired the creation of Instagram and many other apps we use on our phones.