Sunday, 17 November 2013

The incredible story of Lomography or.. How Vladimir Putin saved analogue photography

Lomography is an international movement aimed at taking and sharing analogue photo’s.  And it’s more than photography; it’s a ‘living in the moment’ lifestyle. Their belief :“The Future is Analogue”.
Lomography is an international movement aimed at
Nowadays the International Society of Lomography has more than 2 million members. But it all started with three students in Vienna in 1991; Wolfgang, Bernhard and Matthias.
How it all started
In 1991 Matthias bought a little camera in Prague. Back in Vienna, in typical student times with parties, women and booz , Matthias and his two friends started taking pictures with this ‘Lomo Compact’. This small Russian camera made suprising pictures with a unique, authentic feel.

Soon the friends were approached by people who wanted a Lomo too and a within a few months over 50 people were taking pictures with the same camera. Because of this overwhelming interest in the camera, Matthias, Bernhard and Wolfgang wanted to organize an exhibition to show off all the lomo pictures. “But first let’s start a society”, they joked. And this first joke was followed by the next: the introduction of the ‘ 10 golden rules’ .

10 golden Rules

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 (William Firebrace)
7.     Be fast
8.     You don't have to know beforehand what you captured on film
9.    Afterwards either
10. Don't worry about any rules

The students started selling camera’s, which they bought in Russia. With the earnings they were able to pay for the lomo events. In everything they did, the community approach was key; building an inspiring and ‘happening’ society of lomography believers. If you buy a lomo, you don’t buy a camera, but you buy lifelong membership of the International Society of Lomography.

The Lomo Compact, the little icon camera, is a product of the Lomo factory (Leningrad Optical Mechanical Association) in St. Petersburg. The factory came into business in 1914 making optical military equipment. One of their showcase products it the world’s largest telescope, in the Caucasus.
Exhibition in Moskow
At the end of 1993 the students came up with the idea to organize a special exhibition with 10.000 pictures from New York and 10.000 pictures in Moskow.  How cool it would be to combine ‘East and West’, or as some may think ‘ Good and Bad’ . They sent an invition to the general manager of the Lomo factory. But as the invitation was dated on the 1st of April, the people in the factory thought it was a joke, and the invitation was binned.
The opening of the exhibition in Moskow was a hit and was broadcasted on national tv every hour.  And so the General Manager found out it hadn’t been a joke after all. He hurried to meet the students in Moskow and invited them to visit the factory. They did not know at that time, however, that a radical decision had been made about the production of the beloved camera.
In those days things were changing rapidly in Russia. During the Gorbatsjov regime the iron curtain fell and Russia was moving away from communism towards a free economy. This had big impact on the Lomo factory. In communist days production was done at any cost, but now it had to be profitable. And as the production of the lomo camera cost more that the selling price, the factory had decided to stop production.
Saved by Putin
The three students headed into a series of serious negatiations with the factory. The current President of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Putin, at that time deputy mayor of St. Petersburg ,played an important role. He was charmed by the enthousiastic, creative students and their passion for this little Russian camera. And due to his vision that the continuation of the production of the camer would be good for the factory, and good for St. Petersburg, the factory
(And to add some juicy detail:  The General Manager of the Lomo factory was appointed Vice President of the Soviet Union in 1998; Vladimir Putin and Ilya Klebanov first met during the negotiations with those ‘crazy students’ about the production of the legendary little camera).

Two million lomographers worldwide
In the past few years the Lomography Society has grown rapidly. Especially in Asia the lomography has become very popular. At present the society has over 2 million members and embassy’s in 70 cities, including Amsterdam and London.
And with the growth of the international society the range of camera’s grew too. Originally everthing started wit the Lomo Compact, but in the past years additional camera’s, such as The Diana F+, the Supersampler and the FishEye were introduced. All of them little plastic camera’s with a specific unique character.
Picture taken with SuperSampler

Countermovement in Digital Era
In this digital era Lomography is a fascinating countermovement. It’s all about authenticity and  fun. A typical lomographer is curious; wants to experience and share new things. Although lomopictures are authentic pictures, made with filmrolls and printed, you get your pictures digitally too, so sharing through internet and social media is possible. Go on the internet and you’ll be overwhelmed with the lomo activity of members from all over the world. And for all not-lomographers there are even apps that help you to give a lomo –feel to your digital pictures.
 FishEye camera
Picture taken with FishEye

Want to get started?
After this great story, I can imagine that you want to try for yourself, like me. You can buy a camera for less that 40 euro’s. The ideal beginners camera is La Sardina. The Lomography camera in Amsterdam in the 9 Straatjes sells all the camera’s and they’ll give you good advice which camera is best for you. They also organize workshops every Sunday.
Last weekend I visited the store in Amsterdam and spoke to storemanager Jos Kraaijeveld and shop assistant Laura van Roemburg. Asking them what the typical lomo public is, they told me it’s all kinds of people. For intstance youngsters like lomo because to them analogue photography is something completely new, and it suprises them. On the other hand professional photographers are using lomo camera’s too. To give photoshoots an authentic feel, without using Photoshop.
Generally speaking people use lomo camera’s to capture special moments, because they like the extra feeling the pictures capture.

Asking them about their favorite camera Jos is all for the original Lomo Compact (now known as Lomo LCA+). Laura is very enthousiastic about Sprocket Rocket, a camera with a wide-angel lens, which make’s panorama pictures. And you can choose whether you want to show the sprocket holes. Great for taking holiday pictures!

And of course I couldn’t leave the shop without buying my own. My first lomo camera (as I know know there will be more..) is the Diana F+. A great basic camera that I can extend with accessories, such a flash or special lenses. Enough writing… I am want to get started with my camera..
My first lomo camera: Diana F+

Lomography Gallery Store, Amsterdam
Herengracht  298, (corner Wolvenstraat)

Click here for the blog in Dutch

Friday, 22 February 2013

All about Kid President

"We just wanna make the world better, and I think we can do it".  
That's the spirit of Kid President.

This lettle fellow is really amazing. In real life his name is Robby Novak. He is 8 years old from Henderson, Tennessee. He has Osteogensis Imperfecta, or Brittle Bone disease, which means he has very fragile bones and has fractures all the time. Up till now he has had more than 70 breaks. But that doesn't keep him from dancing, cause he just loves dancing.

Kid President is the best thing that happened in 2012. He is a really gifted kid with a mission and he's getting there. Making the world an awesome place. He says he's not 'in a party, but he is a party"and he wants you to be a party too.. Why not?

Watching his video's (any one of them) will make you smile. So smile, feel good, get the message and pass it on. His most popular video is the Peptalk, so let's start with that one. Keep watching till the end...

The energy and impact of Kid President hasn't remained unnoticed. Even President Obama has spotted the unique value, and guess what? He asked Kid President to help with the invitation for the yearly Easter Egg Roll event at the White house. And he's done a great job.

I just love his Q&A video's. Have a look at this one where he answers questions from his fans. The kid is unstopable and surprisingly authentic. The things he says about grown ups in the video are spot on. He's quite right!

There is also a video to explain how it all started: The True Story of Kid President, also starring is brother in law, Brad Montague. If you want to know more about Kid President, there is a lot of info on Wikipedia. And if you're hooked, like me, just follow his blog and tweets.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Summertime Slippers

Well of course it's nowhere near summer yet, but I can't wait. So let's jump from the Siberian boots (my last blog) to something colorful like slippers. And this is what I bumped into: TKEES.

It's all about casual elegance and easy wear. For around 60 - 70 euro's you'll have a great pair of slippers in any color combination you can think of. Just the slipper you need when you are having a drink on the Pamplona Beach :)

Jesse and Carly Burnett are the drivers behind the brand. “The idea of a pair of flip-flops so minimal that the difference between them on and off was almost indiscernible (almost like that thin layer of sand you have on your feet after coming out of the ocean). Meanwhile, we were sitting on the beach and there was a Tiki hut, we jokingly toyed with the idea of calling the flip-flops TIKIS,” Jesse explains. 

They eventually decided on a different spelling, because writing it like TKEES was graphically more appealing. The flip-flops were introduced in the summer of 2009 and are a celebrity favorite.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

SLOVZ, the new Uggs?

Uggs is not doing too well. Sales are going down and the boots are becoming less popular. Not really suprising, because all hypes come to an end. When everyone is wearing the same thing, it's time for something new. So, although we all have one or two pairs of the warm and comfy boots, let's have a look at what's next. 

Introducing SLOVZ: These handmade Russian boots, made of sheep wool and rubber,  will keep your feet warm up to -40 degrees! There are two designs and are available for women, men and kids.  Boots with a fixed sole or removable sole. With the latter you can were the shoes in home as well. And it's an all family boot, for women, men and kids.

Although rather plump, they are somehow cool too. And I'm sure they'll keep my feet warm.The boots are € 159 (removable sole),€ 179 (fixed sole) and € 99 for kids, and come in natural colours (brown, beige and black). 

Are you ready to wear SLOVZ

SLOVZ was introduced at the Modefabriek

With fixed and removable soles

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Design talent: Camilla Salgaard

Last week I visited the 'Modefabriek' in Amsterdam. Modefabriek is a two-day fashion trade show with over 600 fashion brands. There I met Camilla Salgaard, a young talented Danish fashion designer.

Camilla was invited by the Modefabriek to show her fashion collection for autumn/winter 2013, as part of the Next platform. This is a showcase selection of notable international designer labels. 

Camilla (26)  received her bachelor's degree from the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design in the UK and continued with a Master at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. She was also one of the five finalists of the Designer forTomorrow hosted by Marc Jacobs (Berlin Fashion week 2013).

This collection is her first and is inspired by Alice in Wonderland. Not the girly, fairytale side of the story, but the deeper meaning of Alice's adventures. About a girl in her teens, growing up and feeling insecure about transitioning from a girl into a young women. Size and volume are two strong focus points in the overall black collection.

As stated on her own website, she has a hunger for powerful garments with soul to suit the female shape. I think that's exactly what she grasped in her collection.

Camilla Salgaard with the Cadence coat
Beautiful details

My favourite is the 'cadence coat'. The shape is just stunning. Although not your everyday wear, a piece of Camilla would definitely be great for a special occasion. Prices vary from  340 euros for simple pants to € 1140 for the lovely coat. 

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

My Favourite Book of the Moment

I bought this book at the airport in Amsterdam, to read on the plane to New York. However, during the trip, I only managed to read the first two chapeters. Not enough to get a real grip on the book. But now.. after the Christmas break, I'm hooked. WHAT A GREAT BOOK.  A must read for everyone. Inspirational, fun and challenging. And the timing for reading was just right. Great inspiration for my New Years resolutions...

So this is the book: 'The Happiness Project', by Gretchen Rubin.
Gretchen describes her one-year journey to happiness. Sounds a bit fluffy, but the book is actually very practical and also contains a lot of nice to know facts. Gretchen designs her Happiness Project, by defining 12 area's that she thinks will contribute to happiness.  Then she dedicates every month to one of these area's. Every chapter describes one month. She shares her experiences and anecdotes, but also information about the research that she has done about the topic.

The power of the book is that it shows happiness is in the detail. It's not a BIG MAGIC thing that is only available for the happy few. Or something you should only strive for, if you have a crappy life. It's there for everyone and achievable for me (and you :)) too. So why not start to sing a little song in the morning and look at the impact on you kids and husband. Brilliant? I think so. Not shocking, but truely effective and doable. So just try it.

If there is a special occasion, I'll give all my friends this book. It makes you happy just reading it. How simple can things be?

Sunday, 28 October 2012

New York visit

Last week I visited my brother and sister in law in Redding CT. We spent a few days at their home and then stayed in New York for a couple of days. We had a great time and I especially liked the combination of visiting the countryside (Redding) and the city. You get a full US experience, in stead of just the overwhelming hugeness of New York.

So here is my top 5:
1: Westport CT
Get out of New York for just one day to have a completely different experience.
Take the train from NY Central Station to South Norwalk. The train ride takes 1 hour. From there it's a 15 minute drive to Compo Beach in Westport. Have a walk along the beach and enjoy the view and the beautiful houses. Then go back to the center of Westport for some shopping (10 minute drive). Lovely boutiques from Calypso, Kate Spade, Tiffany's & Co and William Sonoma. Have lunch at The Tavern on Main Street. For dinner there are excellent restaurants in South Norwalk.

2: Rent a bike
Rent a bike (for instance at Blazing Saddles on Pier 78). Follow the Bike lane on the Hudson River Side and go south. Cross over to the other side through Warren Street (just follow the bike signs) and go over the Brooklyn Bridge. A magnificent experience with spectacular views. You can expand your biking trip by going through Brooklyn a bit and then go back over the Brooklyn bridge again. You could take the Manhattan bridge, but the Brooklyn Bridge is really something special and worth the double trip. Then go all the way down on Manhattan. Stop at St. Paul's Chapel and go in to see this memorial place of 9/11. Really impressive and a must do!
Then continue south towards Battery Park. You could park the bikes here and take the free Staten Island Ferry for a great view on the Statue of Liberty. Then continue along the hudson river side. This is the best bit of the trip. Truely fantastic to be biking on the promenade.having the river on your left side and the view on skyscrapers on the right.

3: St Paul's Chapel
This place is definitely worth a visitor because of it's essential role in the 9-11 recovery works. It was a safe haven for all the fire fighters, police, construction workers and other people that were working around the clock on recovery work. A place for eating, sleeping and peace. Now it's turned into a memorial place showing the solidarity of people around the world.

4: Highline Park
The High Line is located on Manhattan's West Side. It runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th & 11th Avenues. The first section of the High Line opened on June 9, 2009. It runs from Gansevoort Street to West 20th Street. The second section, which runs between West 20th and West 30th Streets, opened June 8, 2011. It's a great place to take a step back from the huge buildings and traffic and enjoy some quiet. After having walked on the high line go to Pastis for a nice French lunch.

5: Top of the Rock
Although very touristic, this is an excellent place to view the city from the 70th floor. Go at the end of the day, just when the lights start to show. You will have a great view on Manhattan, showing Central Park on one side and the Empire State Building and Time Square on the other (The Empoire State building really is beautiful and a shame you can't see it when you go up there for a view). Top of the Rock is on top of the GE building (part of Rockefeller center) and reopened in 2005. Tickets are $25 or adults and $16 for kids (6-12 years). When you finish your visit, don't forget to also have a look at the Ice Rink in the Rockefeller center and you may even want to do some ice skating yourself.

Final shopping tips
Of course you can do plenty of shopping in New York. There are huge department stores, like Macy's and Bloomingdales. We actually found these a bit disappointing. Not like Harvey Nichols or Harrods. Anyway there are three shops I think you shouldn't miss:
1: Kate Spade New York, a brand that combines playfulness with elegance. I think the shop in Soho is probably the best (Broome street).
2: Calypso St. Barth, a lovely shop for elegant cashmere and comfortable but feminine clothing. Also to be found in Soho (Broome street) and meatpacking district (Hudson street). And also in Westport.
3: Magnolia's Bakery, for the excellent cupcakes.  Just enjoy the soft and creamy taste of the cupcakes. There are several locations in the city. We had our cakes from the store on the corner of the Rockefeller centre.
4. American Girl Store, the place to go if you have girls up to 12 years old. New York girls have birthday parties here and they take their dolls for a haircut, a new hairdo or an new outfit. Excellent toy concept by Mattel. On 5the avenue near Rockefeller center (that's why you'll see girls with dolls in the ice rink)
5. William Sonoma for amateur cooks. Just love this shops with all the cookware and tableware. Now also shipping to Europe... (on 7th Av/16th street) and in Westport.