There is no camera in Lomography’s lineup that can give you tears of joy and agony at the same time like the humble Holga.
I’ll admit right off the bat that in the past, I quit the Holga in a fit of rage. Twice. Being a neophyte Lomographer looking for my first camera, the Holga was attractive from a financial standpoint. It was cheap, and the photos I saw online were incredibly awesome. I immediately bought one and giddily awaited its arrival.
Once it arrived, I blazed through two rolls and hurried to have it processed. I have to note that at this point, I knew nothing about photography. Absolutely nothing. So I was crushed when the lab told me that both rolls were blank. I was confused. Why wasn’t I able to get photos as awesome as the ones in the Lomography community? I tried another roll, had it developed again, and got the same disappointing result.
I promptly sold my Holga the next day.
I saved up for the LC-A and started shooting with it. I was happy. I got the results I wanted with it, but as I slept in the night, the Holga mocked me in my dreams. It incessantly heckled me, telling me that a chunky plastic box was all it took to defeat me.
Once I awoke, I swore to get over this hump and promptly bought another Holga, this time around being more confident in my abilities.
I failed miserably again. I threw the Holga to the back of room as it cackled in the face of my defeat.
I knew then that it can’t go on like this. I can’t simply go into battle not knowing anything about my enemy. So I finally read up and tried to understand what I could about photography. This is where I learned the most important thing about the Holga – its aperture is f/13. What does this mean?
Simply put, if you use the Holga indoors with an ASA 100 film, you’re gonna have a bad time.
The Holga craves wants light and craves it. It craves it hard. It thrives in conditions that you’ll need sunblock. If there’s overcast skies, and it looks like rain, don’t bother whipping out your Holga, as it’ll only lead to heartbreak, and a ruined shot, of which you only have 12. Save your film, and bide your time. Wait for the opportune moment, and the Holga will reward you for it.
Don’t rest on your laurels though, as the devious Holga has nefarious schemes to make you compose a bad shot. Its viewfinder is not to be trusted. I’m not saying that because I’m paranoid, rather it’s because it only captures a fraction of the whole frame. What’s my recommendation on framing then, you ask?
Put the Holga in front of your face, point at your subject, and shoot.
I’m serious. Thew viewfinder coverage is just around 60% of the frame so if you base your whole composition on it, the end result will have you a big chunk of negative space in all the wrong places. You have to visualize the composition in your mind’s eye before shooting.
Or alternatively, you can compose the shot in the viewfinder, then recompose while you’re holding it in front of your face. Whatever works for you. But the mind’s eye thing sounds way better.
Ask any Lomographer out there, new or old, and they’ll all tell you that the Holga is a very difficult beast to tame. Take things slow. I would recommend shooting with it first in sunny conditions and familiarizing yourself with its quirks, which are many.
Treat your Holga to a sunny afternoon out in the park. Fool around a bit, and before you know it, you’ll be in one of the best, weirdly dysfunctional relationships you’ll ever have in your life.
The Holga Family is known for its saturation, shadowy vignettes, and dream-like scenes. This iconic camera clan will definitely steal your heart with its plastic charm. Head to our Shop and see which Holga is for you!