Lomography is a non-digital form of photography that requires many hours of experimentation. First and foremost, you will need a film camera. You do not need a vintage camera to start. A vintage camera is recommended, though, if you want to capture imperfection through lenses that do not use modern technology. You will also have to choose the format of the camera. There is 35mm (which is widely available), 120, and larger (medium format). 35mm is recommended for beginners and those that don’t have a lot of money to throw around. It will still be expensive, but it will give you an opportunity to experiment until you find your groove without going broke.

Now that you have your camera you should do some research into the type of effect you want to achieve. This is done primarily through the film you purchase. In order to take full advantage of Lomography you’ll want to purchase E-6 Slide film (for your 35mm camera) and have it cross-processed in C-41 solution. The method of cross-processing is essentially processing film with incorrect chemicals. I recommend starting out with Fuji Sensia 200. It’s the easiest professional grade film to find. It costs anywhere from $6 to $10 a roll. There are many other different types of E-6 Slide film, so it may be beneficial to you to purchase one of each for your first time out.

Next you will have to call around to labs in your area to see if they will cross-process your film. The worst thing that can happen is not finding a local lab ahead of time and realizing you may have to wait weeks to see your captures. Many lab attendants are set in their ways or are not familiar with cross-processing and may think it will damage their machines. Thus, they will  turn you away. It helps to find a professional lab that has been processing film for decades—they will be familiar with cross-processing, and if they can’t do it at their lab they can always provide a recommendation. The only downfall of working with a professional lab is the turnaround time and the price, both are relatively higher than one-hour labs you are probably accustomed to. That being said, I have had much luck with one-hour labs staffed by younger workers (who themselves are interested in lomography). If worse comes to worst and you cannot find a local lab there are a wealth of mail-in labs if you search for them online.

If you end up finding a lab willing to cross-process for the first time; carefully let them know that you are aware of the effects, and that the film’s colours will shift wildly—and that you are ok with it. It is also important to make sure they do not perform any color corrections if you choose to have some prints done. Because after all, that would only defeat the purpose.

The first recommendation I can give you once you’re ready to set out and take some pictures is to not take things too seriously. That is, don’t worry about framing your shots perfectly in the viewfinder or making sure your hand is absolutely steady. The phrase, “shoot from the hip” is plastered across Lomography marketing material, and for the most part while you’re experimenting, you should listen to it.

Secondly, you should keep track of the following things: the type of film you used that day, the time of day if was shot, the iso setting that you used or overrode, and the place that you took it to be processed. All these things will help you understand the varying color shifts you will no doubt encounter through your experimentation phase. When it comes time to replicate a shot, you will be better prepared.


What is Lomography?