This is the Holga camera that I picked up over the holiday in San Francisco, in an Urban Outfitters store. I bought it for $50USD – today I saw one in Typo in Brisbane for…$149.95! I’m so glad now I decided to impulse buy my little red Holga in January…
I first became interested in Holga photography when I saw photos that my friends were taking using apps on their phones. Apps such as Hipstamatic and Retro Camera allow you to use a range of cool ‘filters’ when snapping to give your pictures an antique feel. Here’s one that first caught my eye, which my friend Sarah took with Hipstamatic:
The story of the Holga camera is one that particularly caught my interest. From wikipedia:
The Holga camera was designed by T. M. Lee in 1981, and first appeared outside China in 1982 with its appearance in Hong Kong…The Holga was intended to provide an inexpensive mass-market camera for working-class Chinese in order to record family portraits and events.
Within a few years after the Holga’s introduction to foreign markets, some photographers began using the Holga for its surrealistic, impressionistic scenes for landscape, still life, portrait, and especially, street photography. These owners prized the Holga for its lack of precision, light leaks, and inexpensive qualities, which forced the photographer to concentrate on innovation and creative vision in place of increasingly expensive camera technology.
The most striking feature of the Holga and toy camera movement in general is the sense of counter cultre that is fostered through the rejection of digital photography technologies. Many users are adamant about this. Personally I like to swing both ways. The sheer novelty of taking a photo of someone and then telling them that no, they couldn’t see a preview of it on the screen (*shock*) made me an instant analogue camera convert. But waiting to develop whole rolls of film before I can work on an image…just for this reason I would never turn away from digital. That and the joys of super close up macro work.
Interestingly, when I went to develop the three rolls of film I had used, I found that only Big W develops film onsite anymore – Target, KMart and Camera House all send 35mm film away to get developed, usually to Melbourne which takes a week to come back. That can’t be encouraging for people trying to get into this wonderful technique/hobby 😦
I was really happy with the prints that came out of my first rolls of Holga photography. I used some hooks, string and mini pegs to make a disply for some of my favourites: