10 July, 2007

Glenwood Springs by Holga

About a month ago I had the opportunity to photograph the Glenwood Springs Kiwanis “Ball Roll.” The ball roll is pretty much ridiculous. Similar to a lottery, people purchase balls, which are then rolled down a big hill and the first one down wins. All of the money raised goes to various projects and charities that the Glenwood Springs Kiwanis participates in or supports.

Certainly, I could have shot this digitally and come up with images just as strong as many of the images I have posted here, but for this entire weekend I shot nothing but Holga. (I just recently was able to get my film scanned and that is why this post is a little late.) For those of you unfamiliar with Holga, it is a very inexpensive camera with minimal controls (shutter speeds include cloudy and sunny and focus is indicated by pictures of one person, a group of three, a larger group, and a mountain). The viewfinder doesn’t even look through the lens, so if you use it, there is the possibility that all of your images will come out not exactly the way you saw them. Additionally, the camera is primarily molded plastic and even the lens is plastic and light has a tendency to leak in or do other things you normally don’t like it doing inside your camera.

You may be asking “why would you use a Holga?” The answer lies in all of the little deficiencies and the unique way in which the Holga captures the world. From the vignetting (the darker patches about the corners), light flare, etc, the Holga is able to literally create a unique image with every frame. Sure, one can argue that any camera can do that, but with all other cameras, is it the camera itself or the photographer?

The other thing about the Holga is that it really makes you stop and consider your shot. With the use of digital cameras, there is this immediate reward system where you can see the image immediately. If you don’t like it, you delete it and take a new one; memory doesn’t really cost you anything. As a side note, I usually don’t delete. I like to see the progression of the image and it gives me feedback as to how my photography is changing and growing. But that mentality is there that you can literally take a thousand pictures and walk away with one quality picture. Stepping back, putting in the film, composing every frame knowing that you only have a few shots…it’s all a good exercise making every shot count. A philosophy that I try and follow is one I learned from photographer Mo Lukins and it is very simple. Even though you are shooting digitally, treat every shot like it is film. It makes sense. You end up with a lot more strong, memorable images.

If you're interested in getting your own Holga, check out Freestyle Photographic. This is a good source for a lot of photographic supplies, from darkroom and print lab to studio.

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