I’m a simple girl, really.
I’ve never been a fan of the opulent or extravagant. Give me minimalist, inexpensive and authentic. And I’m not one for fads, either. It takes too much energy to keep up with what everyone else considers the latest and greatest.
All this applies to my photography, as well. I was really set against getting a digital camera when they came out because I loved film. You could say I’m a bit of a purist in that I thought digital would be a corrupting force to photography, like those die-hards who favor LPs over CDs.
After seeing some results with early digital cameras the difference between film and digital pictures was very clear to me and I wasn’t into pixilation, way-too-sharp focus or weird colors. But then again I had children and was always wasting obscene amounts of film trying to capture them in action. I finally broke down and got a digital ultra zoom figuring it would help me save some money in wasted film. I didn’t think I’d need another camera again for a long while.
There was a digital honeymoon period for sure. My new camera took great shots and I wasn’t wasting film or money: It was a snap to erase all the goofy out-takes and closed-eye shots (because the closed-eye gene runs deep in my family) that I happened to capture, but I slowly began to realize the fun was being sapped out of photography. I knew that I’d take 500 or so shots at any function because there was bound to be a few keepers, but this meant massive editing. Instead of focusing on composition, light and color I was at the computer monitor sorting between 10 pictures that were basically the same except for one minute detail, like the tilt of someone’s head, and trying to decide which one was the best. Yeah, I could edit everything and make it nearly perfect but it was no fun! I didn’t want to take pictures anymore because I dreaded the editing process. Going through all gazillion shots of little Johnny’s birthday party or the family trip to the beach was not my idea of photographic fun.
My once-loved hobby had fallen into a huge rut, more like a Baltimore-City sized pot hole really. I thought I had outgrown my digital ultra-zoom. Maybe a big, fat DSLR was the cure to my photographic ills? My husband took one look at the hefty price tag and told me that, for sure, a DSLR was not the cure to my problems. As usual, he was right. Because I still couldn’t bear to use my digital camera, and because we’re so frugal, I went the opposite way and got a Holga. My photography has been forever changed by picking up this $24 wonder.
I should have known it would be a toy that would bring the joy and soul back to my photos. As a photographer and musician I have a love/hate relationship with mistakes, secondary to being a perfectionist. I work really hard to perfect my crafts however as we all know, perfection is unattainable. The absolute lack of control with my Holga was incredibly freeing to me. Personally, I had really worked on accepting my mistakes, not just in my music but in life, so when I discovered the toy camera community and their embrace-your-mistakes way of creating art, it felt like destiny. I knew this was a way to recapture my creativity and advance my skills, albeit in a completely different way than I’d ever dreamed. I was excited by the first few rolls of film from my Holga. I’d forgotten how warm, vivid and authentic film shots looked. And those ‘mistakes’ often added to the character of my pictures. Much like birthmarks, funky toenails and two different colored eyes added to the specialness of some of my friends, light leaks, loosely wound film and even the back of the camera flying off all left special impressions on my negatives.
I’m now completely addicted to analogue photography but more specifically to toy cameras. I now see pictures everywhere, in places I would never have dreamed you could make art, like decrepit buildings, shopping carts and playgrounds. It can be rather distracting especially while driving, but I love this new, artistic view of the world. I am amazed that a simple piece of plastic had the ability to pry open my digitalized, jaded eyes to the ordinary beauty around me. Although I’ve now accumulated a nice collection of vintage, Russian and analogue cameras, my favorite remains my trusty Holga. After all, why should kids get all the fun toys?