We're so over perfection.
In a hyper-tech age, digital precision can't help but lose some of its lustre. Which is why hipsters are flocking to Toronto's new Lomography Gallery Store on Queen Street West like rave kids to a candy shop.
The wares they're drooling over aren't jujubes, but cameras. Specifically point-and-snap Soviet-era cameras known as Lomos, which have fuelled a global movement since their relaunch in 1991. The Toronto location is just the latest in a network of Lomography "embassies" - others are in Paris, Hong Kong, Berlin, London, New York and Tokyo -that function as outreach and social hubs for fans.
And the message is being heard. Once the "Lada of cameras," the Lomo has grown into a family of sophisticated lifestyle accessories. Take the Spinner 360 ($145), which shoots 360-degree panoramic images that include the film's actual sprockets. Like most Lomos, it uses 35-millimetre film. (Remember film? Comes in little metal rolls?)
Another hot model is the Sprocket Rocket ($89), which lets you wind your film backward and forward for multiply exposed images. Then there's the Diana Mini En Rose, an adorably retro pink-plastic shooter with an old-fashioned flash. It can shoot images in half-frames and comes with coloured gels to slip over the flash and "colour splash" your pictures. (With so many creative choices, you'd need a course to figure it out, which is why the store offers regular workshops and walking tours.)
The appeal of the Lomo is both nostalgic and aesthetic - its colour-drenched, sometimes slightly blurry results have the feel of family snaps of a lifetime ago and the spontaneous charm of tiny one-off artworks. But there's also a philosophical function: Shooting analogue is about living in the moment. It's upload-resistant and Photoshop-free.
Lomography Gallery Store, 536 Queen St. W., Toronto, www.lomography.com/about.