If you’re into photography and maybe if you’re not, you must surely have heard of Lomo cameras. Russian made and frankly not of great quality, nevertheless they have a massive worldwide following and one has to admit that photos taken with a Lomo are certainly interesting, sometimes quite magical.
It’s funny, on the one hand you have Lomo, an old design unchanged for decades, then you have the Leica M which has been steadily improved over the years. They can’t really be compared because one costs a few hundred Euros, the other a few thousand. Yet I am going to compare them anyway.
Lomo fans have ten golden rules to follow when taking pictures and without even realising I have been following them too but with my Leicas. Here they are.
1) Take your camera everywhere you go.
This is a universal rule that applies equally well to any camera. It’s so true that if you don’t have your camera with you, you can’t very well take pictures!
2) Use it day and night.
With their fast lenses leicas are great for night work.
3) Lomography is not an interference in your life, but part of it.
I feel this way about my Leica M. I cannot imagine life without it.
4) Shoot from the hip.
With wide lenses, it’s possible to shoot from the hip. I have done this a lot over the years and it’s often very effective. It’s especially good because no one sees the camera being brought to your face so it’s much more stealthy.
5) Get in close.
This is a classic Leica approach. If you’re not happy with your work, get closer. I am often in people’s faces with my M. This is something that is much harder to do with SLRs and bigger cameras. It was Robert Capa who said that if you’re not happy with your work you’re not close enough.
6) Don’t think.
Often I just set by experience the aperture, shutter speed and focus and shoot away without thinking.
7) Be fast.
With the simple layout of the Leica M, all settings can be preset for most situations so that all you have to do is press the shutter release and capture the moment.
8) You don’t have to know beforehand what you have captured on film. (here is a classic example. I did not mean to put the smiley face in place of the number 8 but for the life of me, I cannot get rid of it!)
This applies less to a Leica M of course but even with a digital M there is the moment when you see your images on the screen for the first time. Often those Leica lenses add a special something to an image that you could not have imagined.
9) Afterwards either.
This happens much less with the Leica M as the lenses are better at coping with the kind of situations where the Lomo will create something mad, colourful and arty. Mind you, using a wide angle lens, shooting from a low angle and shooting into the sun, even with a Leica is likely to create crazy shots.
10) Don’t worry about any rules!
This is my favourite rule. If you want to be a commercial photographer and sell your work, you will probably have to follow rules and convention but if you’re not then you can do what you like. Crooked horizons, cropped legs, lens flare etc are the order of the day!