May 10, 2012 2:00 PM EDT

Facebook’s billion-dollar acquisition of photo-sharing software Instagram on April 9 confirmed that the world wants to take and look at pictures with interesting filters. But artistic manipulation of the photographic process is not new and, contrary to what users might expect, interest in Instagram has had a positive effect in a surprising place: at analog-only photography company Lomography, which has opened 12 new stores just since this past fall and has plans to open two more, in Chicago and Antwerp, in the coming months.

Matthias Fiegl, one of the original founders of the 20-year-old, pinhole- and fisheye-loving, Vienna-based company, recently visited New York City. He sat down with LightBox at the company’s Greenwich Village store— where signs proclaim the “prophecies of the analogue future” and the walls are papered with photographs—to discuss why its competitor’s success is good for business.

“People have tried out filters on Instagram and now they want to do the real thing,” says Fiegl. “We hear that all the time in the shop.”

Lomography started as a way to buy the Russian Lomo cameras that Fiegl and his friends loved, and now sells a variety of cameras, accessories, film, clothing and books. Fiegl says that people are often surprised that the Lomography website sees up to 8,000 images uploaded daily and about 2 million unique visitors each month. It’s a tiny sum compared to sites like Flickr but, Fiegl notes, users tend to be more selective when they need to develop and scan their photos. “Lomography is a niche,” he says. “From that perspective it’s a huge community.”

Spoilers for last night's The Good Wife follow: After Diane Lockhart breaks the news to the partners about Will Gardner's death, the camera, as it often does on The Good Wife, breaks off from the scene with David Lee and tracks him down the hall. We know David Lee and we know these halls, and the image suggests for a minute that he's striking some opportunistic plot. Instead, we follow him into his office, where--just for a second--his face breaks and he gasps for breath. Then it's back to work, as he approaches Diane with a plan for action, not to take advantage of the situation but to defend the firm from losing clients who, he guesses rightly, will not be so sentimental. "I don't want to be doing this any more than you do," he says. "But the car is moving and someone has to be driving." "The Last Call," very deliberately and mostly effectively, puts us in the passenger seat. The audience for The Good Wife has had a week to process Will's death, to move through denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance (or canceling their season passes). The Good Wife could have joined the characters somewhere farther along that line--at Will's funeral, say--allowing them time, and scripted moments, to mourn with us. Instead, the episode expressed the emotion of the moment as it usually does best: through work. The show gives us no break; we see most of the characters the moment they get the bad news. It presents Will's death as a gut punch, contrasting, as sudden deaths do, the disorienting horror of the news with the banality of all the cars that keep rolling on--cases, TelePrompTers, depositions. Alicia's first response may be familiar to anyone who's gotten sudden bad news; "But I just saw him yesterday," an off-balance, illogical response to the seeming illogic of death. Her discovery of Will's last voicemail gives form to an episode that is largely a collection of moments, as she attempts to find out what he was going to say. But although she finds out what he wasn't going to say--she was not, after all, the one Will was angry at for stealing clients--the episode doesn't offer any easy finality. Death happened, the answer died with Will, and all that survives him is the question. (Sidebar: Will, it turns out, was calling to fire Damian, thus settling in his last moments one of this season's few misfires.) While "The Last Call" doesn't give its characters lyrical set pieces to remember Will, it may have actually prompted better performances by forcing them to react in the moment of crisis. Christine Baranski is particularly steely-fantastic here; Diane's kiss-off to the firm's insensitive client is not just a gesutre in memory of Will but a summation of her character, someone who has always had to grit her teeth and work with terrible people, while knowing the lines she won't cross in the name of bringing in business. Ditto Matt Czuchry and Zach Grenier, carrying on with red-rimmed eyes. Even Archie Panjabi--whose Kalinda I worry might become even more unmoored from The Good Wife's larger story with the loss of Will--is chillingly effective with a jailhouse suicide taunt that would have creeped out Rust "I suggest you kill yourself" Cohle. Yet for every powerful dramatic moment in the episode (I'd also commend Alicia's talk with Grace, which was true both to Alicia's atheism and Grace's faith), "The Last Call" also maintained The Good Wife's sense of humor. If comedy is partly about the intrusion of the unexpected, then death, especially, sudden death, is the biggest, most unsettling joke of all. If this was not exactly the most good-time episode of The Good Wife, it was true to the show's spirit in showing the dissonance that comes when life refuses to stop--leaving Eli at a podium telling Alicia's joke about picking out a dress. There will be plenty more tears to come. Sometimes you still have to laugh.
Lomography

According to Lomography USA’s general manager Liad Cohen, Lomography benefits from blending online and live communities. Lomography’s website has sharing capabilities, and the stores host photography workshops and exhibitions. One such exhibition is a traveling world tour of a collection of vintage 1960s and ’70s “Diana” cameras (Lomography sells a model) amassed by the award-winning photographer Allan Detrich. The exhibit, which also features camera customizations by local artists at each stop it makes, returns to the U.S. on May 10 and will spend about a month in San Francisco before going on to Los Angeles, Austin, Chicago and New York City.

Fiegl theorizes that people who are interested in making art in a novel way want to do something unusual: “The younger the people are, the more they want to do analog,” he says. Lomography once considered selling a digital camera, but a survey of customers revealed that “Lomographers” were more interested in new analog cameras instead. And even if digital filters can achieve Lomography-like looks, Fiegl thinks that users who see themselves as artists, rather than snapshot-sharers, are drawn to his company because it encourages users to keep and come back to older work, whereas the streaming format favored by media platforms like Instagram makes it hard not to just look at what’s most recent.

Even though new customers often have to be taught how to load film and reminded that they can’t see the photos right away, Fiegl says that amateur photographers for whom digital is normal see something appealing in old-fashioned technology—and unlike larger and older photo brands, Lomography has grown alongside digital photography and has not had to struggle to reorient itself in that landscape.

“Maybe the technology is redundant,” says Fiegl, “but it’s opening up new possibilities.”

The Diana World Tour returns to the U.S. on May 10, opening at the Lomography Gallery Store in San Francisco. The show will then travel to Los Angeles, Austin, Chicago and New York. Information from past stops the show has made is available here, and more information about Lomography is available here.

Write to Lily Rothman at lily.rothman@time.com.

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