I was extremely excited to visit the headquarters of Lomography in Vienna. All my expectations were met: enthusiastic people, creative atmosphere, and lots of analog cameras and photos on the walls. While I was wandering around, our photographer Alexander Schwarzinger captured everything he saw, so enjoy our tour through the Lomography Society International’s office.
They say “love what you do, do what you love”. I had the impression that the people who work here at Lomography are the expression of this saying…
Love and work… work and love… what else is there really?
Every product they create and test themselves. You see their faces on the packaging of the cameras they design; the photos from their birthday parties are the spiciest pics on the gigantic lomowalls in the exhibitions; they share their secret spots and places to get the best shots of the city into the pages of their city guide. The whole international community of Lomography lovers, with representatives all around the globe, starts here, in the best city in the world – Vienna.
For me as a Russian, Lomography is a project to be proud of: Not everybody knows that his or her favorite camera was actually born in St. Petersburg in 1914. If President Putin would care about the younger, creative Russians, the fact that he has something to do with this whole story with Lomography society could help him win the hipsters’ love.
Small world created by two Viennese enthusiasts.
Viennese students discovered the LOMO LC-A camera in the beginning of the 90s during a trip to Prague. Soon their friends also became very excited about the LC-A, more and more people wanted to have their own LC-A, and the demand grew so big that they founded the Lomographic Society International in 1992 in Vienna.
The headquarters is located in the 15th district of Vienna, not far from Schönbrunn Palace (Schloß Schönbrunn).
The Lomographic Society’s office building is a former coffee factory or warehouse (the employees were not sure). All the chairs and some tables were bought on Ebay and at flea markets. One of the founders, Sally Bibawy, is an architect. But she is not the only one in the crew hunting for interesting furniture. Cat from the Hong Kong office spends every Saturday searching for treasures at Naschmarkt and other flea markets in Vienna. He and his colleagues from Hong Kong and Vienna find their happiness in taking pictures.
I was wondering how a regular day of a Lomography employee looks like?! The answer was as expected: every day is different…
Designers Gudrun and Dominik know everything about Lomography cameras. There are so many – you could make an encyclopedia. They get inspiration in bookshops, museums, or on bicycle rides through Vienna. The city is very inspiring, they say, and I agree!
We go through the room with the screen and the bar and to the lab, the place where the magic happens. Some cameras use no longer existing analog formats, which nobody but the Lomographic lab can develop. Shops from Paris, Berlin, Milan, Munich, Amsterdam, and other cities in Europe send their films here. The IT manager is a multitasker – developing the films is not his main function here.
But Lomography is much more than just analog cameras and colorful films – it is a lifestyle and here in the office they can tell a lot about how to engage customers in the product: online magazine, contests, exhibitions, dedicated events, projects, and parties… People are happy to share their combined collection of 55,000 lomographs (photos) with the world. In this online community you can find fascinating things, like the DIY camera (pinhole) from an egg or the experimental project “Lomo-Copter”.
The range of projects is vast: From allowing users to customize the cameras in small international teams to the “Lomomap” in Cologne on the main square (people were asked to send their photos of their favorite spot in the city, which were then printed as a gigantic map, laminated, and put on the ground) or exhibitions in art galleries.
At the end of our tour I saw what the pure happiness is for all this different people, who came to Vienna from France, the UK, Switzerland, and even Brazil – the moment when the developed photos are brought to them from the lab. Smiles, excitement, surprise, and many other emotions while they looked at the pictures. And people have this happiness here every week.
So when we went to visit my parents in Moscow the next week, which camera do you think we took?! The analog Lomo LC-A… And you know what? We were just as happy during the shooting process as when we saw the results.
The PR manager (one of the best I have met in my life) Marlene answered to my question: How can Lomography make you happy?
– It captures the great moments in life forever! Always a reminder of how good life can be! We see Lomography as a democratic form of photography, where anyone can be an artist.
P.S. The Lomo flagship store in Vienna is closed at the moment. The MQ is refurbishing the premises and wants to use the space of the shop for their own cultural needs. A new location is currently being searched for!
P.P.S. To experience Vienna through the Lomographic point of view I would recommend getting their city guide.
And finally, a secret tip from the headquarters (not in the guide yet): Ü Lokal, established a half year ago by one of the former colleagues, serves delicious Vorarlberger specialties in a cozy environment!
Ü Lokal, Obere Augartenstraße 46, 1020 Vienna
- 1. Take your camera everywhere you go
- 2. Use it any time – day and night
- 3. Lomography is not an interference in your life, but part of it
- 4. Try the shot from the hip
- 5. Approach the objects of your Lomographic desire as close as possible
- 6. Don’t think
- 7. Be fast
- 8. You don’t have to know beforehand what you captured on film…
- 9. …or afterwards either
- 10. Don’t worry about any rules