Through a Glass, Brightly
The Holga is a cheap plastic camera, noted for its random behavior- light streaks, overlaps, poor exposure and focus- high tech it isn't. It does have a certain cachet and is popular with young people (if only for a roll or two.) Its popularity has grown slowly over the last few years, keeping roll film manufacturers alive and confounding photo-lab technicians whose automated equipment refuses to respect the free form formatting of the images that result from its nonchalant design.
I met a Holga adherent last week-end, selling prints at an art fair. The images were lively, fun and colorful- nothing earth-shattering, but pleasantly ambiguous. I joked about her being a "Holga Girl" as if it were a secret cult. While talking, I thought back to all the cameras I've had over the years (many dozen) and all the formats: 35mm (full frame, half frame, stereo, Nimslo) 4x5, 120, 220, 116, 616, 620, 127, 118, 110, 126, 828, Autographic, 8mm, Super 8mm, 16mm and all the styles: Box, folding, rangefinder, SLR, point and shoot, Polaroid, view, pinhole, movie and now digital. While I've never owned a Holga, I have had a Diana- the Holga's inspiration, and quite possibly the worst camera ever manufactured.
I'm trying to cut down, I've got two digital compacts, and a Digital Single lens reflex. I might jettison the DSLR, I find the compacts to be so much handier, and their image quality (and software) has improved enough that I find that there aren't many times that I really must have the big camera.
And a cute little camera gets more smiles from its subjects than than a big old monster-zoom DSLR ever could: