I sometime answer question on Yahoo Answers and regularily find people asking questions about Holgas, Dianas and such. A lot of these questions are met with an almost hatred for the plastic cameras and this post is centered around my thoughts on that.
I was looking on Yahoo Answers recently and someone asked the question “What is so special about the Holga camera?” Before writing my response I read some of the other answers and found an almost hatred for the plastic cameras I have grown a fondness for.
I have to admit to not having used a Holga although I have used other similar cameras. Even with that in mind what I understand to be the question could be applied to other Lomo cameras like the Diana, etc – with a perceived low quality, lo-fi images and cult following what’s so good about them?
The camera itself on its own is nothing special but it’s what you do with it that matters. People on Yahoo Answers (as seen in that example) seem to have a hatred for these plastic cameras. Ultimately though isn’t the camera just a tool just as the paint brush is to the artist?
I personally don’t care whether someone has a £40,000 medium format digital back 40 mega pixel camera or a £1 plastic piece of junk bought from a charity shop. For me art (and specifically photography) is subjective and just because an image isn’t pin-sharp and exposed perfectly does not mean it cannot be a good photo in its own right. If your photo has to convey meaning or emotion, depict a scene or show personalities then who decides which types or camera are suitable for doing this?
In truth I would even go as far as saying the Lomography and photography mediums – whether film of digital – are too different to be judged against one and other on a technical basis. It’s this fact where the ‘real’ photographers get hung up on as how can something made of plastic, producing lo-fi images and accessible to all possibly create anything of any worth?
A sticking point seems to be the belief that with a Lomo camera you can take any old photo and pass it off as ‘art’ and of course you get people who probably do. But that’s not limited to the Lomography crowd though. What these people seem to forget is with the rise in consumer level DSLRs popularity how many people use their cameras on full auto and never produce anything worthwhile? Or how about those who manipulate their images in Photoshop to the point of having no resemblance to the original at all?
I say don’t get tied up in what others think or subscribe to the view that other types of photography cannot be just as creative, artistic or valid as an art form. Do what YOU WANT and produce images YOU LIKE on any camera YOU CHOOSE. If that happens to be a £40 piece of plastic the so be it.
So no – the Holga is nothing special then just as in the wrong hands NO camera is special.