Well another entry about my journey back into film, so buckle up. As I always say, scroll down if prose is not your thing. There are some pretty pictures down there. I promise.
So why this title?? What exactly is a Holga and why am I writing about it? Let’s take a trip back in time. Picture it — Albany New York 1997. I had joined the college yearbook, kinda on a whim after talking to a guy about it in our college dorm cafeteria. I had loved photography for a long time and had done some, primarily with an all automatic camera my parents had bought me. I made a lot of mistakes and I wanted to learn but I thought taking a class would be too intense and I really wasn’t sure if I could handle it. Moreover, I had this weird idea that I was still the same person as I was in high school, not the “photography” type. I don’t know why I thought this. Maybe I was just this little academic nerd that on the surface didn’t have an artistic bend.
I loved the yearbook or Photo Service from the get go. The yearbook was mostly an opportunity for the editor in chief to create a portfolio for themselves and for once in my life, that didn’t bother me, at all, even a little bit. I was there to learn without the commitment of taking an actual photography class. I still use a lot of the things I learned in photo service now, the real principles of composition, light and shadow and photographic dynamism.
One day, one of the people I was in photo service with said — the Holgas are here. They had ordered a whole bunch of these cameras. If I had known what they were I would have ordered one. A Holga is this kind of plastic box camera, like a Kodak Brownie. Picture below, if you’ve never seen one of those. I did not take this photo. A box camera is the most basic type of camera available. It is quite literally a box with a hole it in, like an old camera obscura which is not a camera either, rather, you guessed it, a paper with a hole in it projecting the image of a scene with light on it. Ever seen one of those extremely detailed paintings of the Grand Canal in Venice by Tintoretto and wonder how did this man paint that??? Well, with a camera obscura. Kodak brownie for scale:
The Holga is that but the image is recorded on medium format film. It is SLIGHTLY more advanced that the Kodak Brownie but not by much. It has two modes and one shutter speed. The average iPhone has more features. Eh, but who wants that. The thing though is that the Holga is constructed sorta like a point and shoot camera. The other medium format cameras are twin lens reflexes where you have to look down to compose. Don’t get me wrong. My Rolleicord is a beautiful piece of machinery but sometimes you just wanna have some low-fi fun.
The low-fi fun is part of the charm of the Holga. You have to duct tape the sides to prevent light leaks but hey, if they happen, they happen. And yeah, the camera looks like a Fisher Price toy camera. Oh and these are called toy cameras. A picture of a Holga, that I did not take for you to see what one looks like:
Yup. That is a real camera that takes film. Anyway, I spent a few months with my Holga at my side, shooting whatever I saw. I got some light leaks in there. Those aren’t some Instagram “filter.” That is real life. Why do they call those things “filters,” They are effects. UH. My perturbed-ness about that is fodder for another entry. Anyway, Holga Times call for some Holga fun. Fun with the Holga, directly below: