Good fortune has recently shined upon me as I have been kindly given a Holga, a plastic “toy” camera popular about one (or three!) decades ago. I suppose arriving late to the party is better than not turning up at all!
As 120 film was the most widely available format in China at the time, the Holga was originally intended to provide an inexpensive way for working-class Chinese to record portraits and family events. However the introduction of 35mm film in China soon made the 120 film fairly irrelevant and the manufacturer looked to create a market outside the mainland. Within a few years it was being sought out by some artists and photographers for its ability to create surreal and impressionistic images. The lack of precision, light leaks and its cheapness forced the photographer to concentrate on creative vision rather than increasingly expensive technology.
Looking through the beautifully packaged box, the Holga came complete with film, filters and black tape (!). When I picked it up I realised why the last item was included as the back fell off, exposing the film inside! Reading other comments and articles about the Holga, I realised that black tape would be my new friend!
I eventually found a spare hour when it wasn’t raining, loaded the Holga with a roll of 120 film (this was quite a novelty in itself having only used 35mm in the past and thankfully it wasn’t as tricky to load as I had thought) and set off to get my 12 shots. When you have got used to the luxury of having the ability to take (pretty much) as many images as you want and the convenience of being able to look at them after to see if they are any good, 12 shots that you have very little idea of what they are going to be like is quite a challenge.
Anyway, I had an idea of what I was looking for and took my 12 exposures. I have to say that it made me think a lot before taking any of the shots and made it harder as I felt that I was “saving” my film for anything that was really good. In the end I had to just choose what to take and then make the shot.
The camera itself is fairly flimsy and clunky, thankfully it didn’t fall apart (the black tape worked in that respect) but when you press down the shutter you can definitely feel it move so I expect most of the images to be blurry. Also it only has a few basic settings so I’d be very surprised if the exposures were anywhere near correct. Oh and the film was about 5 years out of date, all shaping up nicely then!
After much searching, I have found somewhere to send the film and posted it off, but, depending on the post, I will have to wait a few days for it to come back. I can’t really say that I am very hopeful that anything will be any good, but I will post some of the pictures if they are not too horrible! This could be the beginning of something fun, but then again…we’ll see!
See part two for the results of this first experiment!