Last night I ordered a Holga 120N for my birthday! The Holgas are a really neat line of ‘toy’ cameras, in the ‘Lomography’ genre.
Lomography is interesting. It’s both a philosophy and a form (or technique) of photography, attributed mainly to cameras such as Lomos, Holgas and Dianas. These effects and styles are caused by the cameras ‘unique’ hardware.
The story behind it is, in the 60s, 70s and 80s there were attempts by a few camera countries in Russia, China and other places to create mass-market, affordable cameras for the people. A characteristic of this is that they were almost entirely plastic (including the lens) and ‘poorly’ made – there were light leaks, images turned out blurry, with dark edges, amongst other things. In other words, they didn’t achieve a ‘photo real’ result.
Later, people started rediscovering these cameras and their quirky effects, their popularity shot up and a movement quickly grew. Demand was high and eventually, the original cameras were all bought up or became scare. A company was started and they began re-making these cameras, in all their imperfect glory.
Strictly speaking, you don’t need one of the ‘brands’ of lomographic cameras to get these results. Part of the fun, for me anyway, has been looking in second hand stores, online and in old boxes in our garage for cameras that could potentially give interesting effects. I found two all-plastic cameras in a box over the weekend and yesterday purchased two from an op shop (as well as a flash, all for $5!), and have been snapping away at everything, in part following the ‘ten golden rules’:
- Take your camera everywhere you go
- Use it any time – day and night
- Lomography is not an interference in your life, but part of it
- Try the shot from the hip
- Approach the objects of your lomographic desire as close as possible
- Don’t think (william firebrace)
- Be fast
- You don’t have to know beforehand what you captured on film
- Afterwards either
- Don’t worry about any rules
I decided to get a Holga mainly for the ease of use and the number of accessories and settings that I can potentially use with it, such as different coloured filters, sized films or slides, or exposure and light settings.
Meanwhile, I am using a ‘Cyprea 2-way camera’, an all plastic point-and-shoot we got for free with a Readers Digest offer over a decade ago. It had never been used or thought about – until now.
Some examples of lomo photos, taken by the particular camera I ordered (via flickr):