Not only is that time of year for tortoises, bears, and hedgehogs to think about going to sleep, I will also be going 'au natural' this autumn by putting my point-and-shoot digital into a more forced hibernation and instead, wield the clickity-clack king, the Holga 135BC TLR.
After a fast, crazy, and painfully digital summer, I have finally decided to give up the goat and throw in the towel for my old, but soulless point-and-shoot Fuji. This process has challenged every fiber of my photographic being, and changed the way I define what a ‘good’ photo is. How I came to this decision is a subject that hopefully a lot of Lomographers can relate to.
This summer I was lucky enough to go on two holidays: one to Florence in Italy with my family, and another to Barcelona in Spain (Catalonia) with other teenage individuals; spectacular places, weather, cultures, and people. But there was one critical difference between the two trips. (and not just that there was a lot more alcohol on one) In Italy I had the constant familiar bump of a digital camera on my hip, but in Spain I was left photographically unarmed.
That was however, until I stumbled across a stray Lomography Embassy Store in the narrow streets of Gothic Barcelona. Up to this point, the word ‘Lomography’ meant nothing to me, but after that amazing epiphany I had in that shop, all other photographs just seemed bland and dull compared to the emotional analogue screen-captures that it supplies. Inside the shop, I was overwhelmed by the color-filled collage of Lomographs that covered a whole wall and then again by the eccentric and fabulous cameras that adorn the shelves and tables of the little shop. In a trance, I fumbled for my wallet, my mouth drooling over a Diana Mini or a Holga 135BC and am immediately hit by a feeling of spiraling despair as I noticed that it is empty. Not one euro was inside it. I slowly remembered the endless bottles of San Miguel that surrounded my table the night before, and reluctantly gathered where my cash had gone. I left biting my lip, so sad leaving such a vibrant store empty handed.
I returned to my hostel and quickly grabbed a fistful of cash, wanting to rush back to the shop before it shut. I raced back down hot cobblestone streets to the church of Santa Maria del Mar. I stopped, panting heavily, quickly darting my eyes down various side streets, struggling to remember which one it was located on. I wandered around aimlessly in the maze of streets for two hours before giving up. Like a magical room of requirement, it had disappeared.
I returned back to Wales with a weaker liver but a stronger mind. I was going to get a film camera no matter if people thought I was trying to be hipster or not. I decided on the 135BC TLR and a roll of ISO 200 Kodak film. I received them quickly and waited until the great Lomograph scenery revealed itself to me. That was my first mistake with Lomography; I was too conservative with film. I realized over time that it is the camera that creates the scenery with Lomography, not the scenery being the only subject as with photography. Lomography is like seeing familiar or ‘normal’ surroundings with a wacky set of eyes.
I sent off my first roll of film today. While scrambling around for an envelope, I noticed my Fuji was still where I had left before I went to Spain. I dusted it off and went for a shoot around my local park. Expecting the feeling of meeting an old friend, I was surprised to feel that I was frustrated with the accuracy of the view finder and not being able to twist the lens barrel to focus. I felt like I was not part of the photographic process, like I was telling a little man inside the camera to take a picture for me.
I have grown closer to my Holga in two weeks than I did in the four years with the Fuji and I didn’t even have to take it across 19 countries to do this. Its production inconsistency means that no one else’s Holga will behave exactly like mine. This gives me a profound sense of personality with it. I feel like it is part of me and its problems reflect the problems that everyone has, making the camera all the more human.
In conclusion, it is obvious you can get clearer, higher definition pictures with digital cameras, but doing so will sacrifice any feeling your photos will have. Digital cameras capture a moment, but Lomos capture feelings. I have gone film, and will never go back.