Thursday, October 30, 2008

Life Throught a Plastic Lens [The Holga Experience].

“ A Holga is a study in imperfection, and to use it is an exercise in breaking free from dependence on technology, precision, and über-sharpness. The slight softness of images, uncontrollable vignetting, and peculiar light leaks create a partnership between you and the Holga. The “flaws” accompanied by your creative choices result in a quasi-serendipitous art.” – Michelle Bates.

How could I have said no to such an invitation? How could I refuse this innovative playful experience, and turn away from this trip into a new, vast, and untamed world of artistic challenges and uncontrolled visual perceptions?

I got my first Holga two days ago as an early birthday gift, from a good friend of mine. Another amateur of photography: sensei. (He got himself the Fisheye II).

For a couple of weeks now, I have been preparing mentally for the new and “improved” version of the Diana (as they say): The Holga 120CFN.

I have been going through websites, articles and video clips, that teach how to tape the camera, how to load films, as well as creative features and modifications.
Because the Holga is a camera in its primary state, you have to actually “modify” it, in order to have it work properly. The actual starter kit comes with a roll of black tape. How insane is that?
(watch here a youtube clip, showing explainig how to tape and modify your Holga)
The lens is made of plastic, it has a built-in psychedelic multi-colored flash, and it produces vignetted medium format prints.

The only condition for using a Holga, is that “you have to let go of the controls”. And I think this is the main reason of attraction between a control freak like me, and this unpredictable, compulsive, hidden artist in a box.
I fell in love with its simplicity, but was intrigued by its personality; it possesses the power to make its own decisions. You have to learn how to remain flexible, and “roll with the punches”.
So much character, and so much fussiness coming from a clumsy-looking plastic toy, but who ever said that real beauty and unforgettable art have to be attached to so much pretense and perfection.

Every Holga is unique; there is nothing generic, or industrial about it. “Some produce brighter images, some more colorful ones. Some leak light through the back, some through the side, and some don’t leak at all”. Like human beings, each box carries a special signature of its own, and it leaves it up to you to discover its inner quirkiness, figure out what makes you tick, and experiment while manually modifying the camera.

The 5 fundamentals for a good partnership with the Holga are:
1. Free yourself from rules.
2. Embrace random results.
3. Disarm your subjects.
4. Engage individuality.
5. Get Your Hands Dirty.

The first rule for using the Holga:
1. There are no rules.

“The Holga summons up Dadaist traditions of chance, surprise and willingness to see what can happen.” – Robert Hirsch.

And tonight, I load my first film.


Labels: , ,


At 1:10 PM, Blogger poshlemon said...


as I read this post, I felt transported in time to my b.a. years in 2003/2004 when we took photography full-time and studied all the artistic movements, all the crazy nutty and also sane photographers... and we worked with several different kinds of cameras ;) I even did a huge essay (around 8,000 words) on photography, its beginnings, development, movements, photographers and its impact on the different fine arts mainly poster art. And I am hugely fond of the fashion photographers of the early 20th century such as Helmut Newton, Irving Penn, Hoyingen-Heune, Avedon, and so on. Also Diane Arbus and every other photographer who experimented with 'strangeness'.

It was crazy stuff. How did I end up doing a PhD in history? hehe I guess there's a connection there. Photography hopes to capture moments in history and this is why photographs are a great tool for the inquisitive urban historian hoping to find pictures of how a certain city used to be.

I feel that you have grown immensely as a photographer in these past months or is it because you've been sharing your photography more frequently? Point is I've been enjoying your work. But I feel it has been quite colorful and maybe safe which is great and I am in no position to criticize but I am excited to see what you would yield using a holga. How the contrast of colors would be since it leaks light in at unexpected times and how unpretentious the pictures will come out. But it depends on what you're wanting to focus on. Are there any concepts or topics or you're just going to take it as it goes?

The holga is so cheap but also amazingly fun and so hands on. I just watched the video. Lovely :)

At 9:06 PM, Anonymous matt Lit said...

let go and enjoy! my first experiences with a holga ('97) were pitiful to say the least! too much technical skills coming into my brain. it was when i let go and embraced the mistakes, the fog, the blur, the serendipity that i began to find my place with the holga.

from somewhere on Colorado's Continental Divide...


LITfoto blog

At 6:29 PM, Blogger shoesthatfit said...

before this entry, i didn't know what a Holga was. but NOW, i'm mighty interested. oooooh, there are no rules ... i likey this toy! was this a bday pressie to yourself :)

At 4:48 AM, Blogger shoesthatfit said...

i was giddy with the idea of your holga that i missed the paragraph of it being a bday pressie. can't wait to see what you do with it : )

At 7:32 AM, Blogger MMMMMMMMM said...

Man don't get me wrong, but i do envy your talent! I feel that i have a certain potential.... for becoming a good photographer... but I am always busy with smthg else! I simply can't afford to have several hobbies!! Plus day dreaming takes most of my time!

At 9:55 AM, Blogger Delirious said...

Hi right back atcha!


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home