As we all already know, the Holga is a cheap, light-weight camera from China that comes with a plastic lens and also a plastic body. Although it is known as a toy camera, it is not actually made for small children. I hated it at first but eventually fell in love with it!
The first time I tried a Holga was 8 years ago, I was 17. I totally hated it, I thought it was stupid. The back cover of the camera falls off so easily. I was told to use black tapes all around my camera to prevent light leaks. The film was too big, and nobody wanted to develop it. Plus I looked like a total idiot carrying that camera around. My first roll was crap, I just didn’t see the point of it and moved on to other cameras.
One day, after I got back from the beach with a friend, he showed me the pictures that he had taken during our trip with his Holga. I couldn’t believe them, they were surreal, magical. I had to be able to take the kind of pictures that he took, but I didn’t have any money to buy a Holga at the time. I found another friend who didn’t want her 120CFN anymore who asked me if I would like to trade a pair of my shoes for her camera. I even got some free rolls of films! Fate has brought me to my camera. It came to me.
The Holga has very minimal control, the light settings are sunny and cloudy. It has bulb and normal shutter settings, marked as B and N. The focus settings include one person, three person, many people and mountains. My Holga does have 4 colors of flash though, and my personal favorite is the yellow flash.
There really isn’t much that my Holga can do, in fact it does so many mistakes with its light leaks and accidental multiple exposures. If I had to sum my Holga up in a word it would be unpredictable; I guess that’s what I love so much about it. Now days, I no longer tape my camera to prevent the light leaks, I let my Holga do whatever it wants to do.
I love how it how my camera exaggerates whatever it is I see through my lens. I love thinking of ways to hack and tweak the camera. I love the excitement of waiting for my films to be developed and seeing what disaster it did this time. Though it occasionally lets me down, I know it will make it up to me the next time I develop films out of it.
I don’t think the term “Don’t think, just shoot” ever works for me. I don’t like to waste my film, because of this (actually, just mostly money) limitation that I have on myself, it forced me to look at things in a different way. It thought me to not think so much of what other people think, so I can do whatever I want to do. See people at a different angle. I watch things more closely and I am more careful. It also thought me to be patient. I constantly think of how things could look like and how I could try to make that happen. My Holga honestly thought me so many things.
Today my Holga lives in my oversized handbag or in my car. It also has made yet another best-friend. I think it’s happy.