Holga 120N – Authentic Crap-Tastic Photo-Junky Goodness
|January 20, 2013||Posted by Photo GearHead under Cool Gear|
If you’re into taking awesomely terrible photos that nonetheless look wonderfully cool (and, who isn’t?) then you really only have two options if you want to wear the badge of authenticity and save yourself from the sneers, jeers and accusations of being a “poser” by those hip-tastic cool-dude Photogs that REALLY know how to take the most funky looking terrible-while-being-not-so-terrible-at-the-same-time pictures. You can either get yourself a genuine Lomographische (ugh, how passé, am I right?) and enter the world of Lomography, or, you can lay your hands on a genuine Holga and enter the world of Holgography.
Often imitated; almost never not improved upon, was the Holga 120. Along with the Lomo L-CA, these two cameras most assuredly spawned more “How-to simulate the XXXX look” Photoshop tutorials than… well… some other thing that spawns a heck of a lot of something else! (I tried. I couldn’t think of a clever simile. I didn’t want to spend that much time on it.)
The Holga was first introduced in 1981 to the Chinese market. Designed by T. M. Lee, it sported such incredible features as a meniscus lens forged from 100% pure, genuine plastic, and body construction that leaked more light than …well… something else that leaks a heck of a lot of light! (Drat! Came up short again!) The Holga was produced with the intention of providing the working-class Chinese of the day (read: dirt-poor) a way of recording forever their precious memories of a life lived under an oppressive communist regime.
Yes, the Holga 120 was equipped with everything the meticulous photographer who demands only the best from his photo gear could ever ask for: Plastic lens, a completely fixed shutter-speed, flimsy body construction, and your choice of two whole f-stops. Doesn’t it just sound like a dream? Fortunately, Holga never settled for near perfection and continued to improve the camera. By only the third generation of Holga 120, the Holga 120N replaced the plastic lens with glass, added a tri-pod mount, a bulb exposure mode, and one or two other bells and whistles. Holga didn’t seem to do all that much about that light leaking stuff, though.
All in all, the Holga cameras were commonly referred to by photographers as (in the photographic technical lingo they are so oft’ fond of employing) “Junk.” However, not long after the Holga’s introduction to foreign markets, a sparse few photographers — discovering the Holga’s built-in, on-board junk-tastic capabilities — began using the Holga to achieve funky-cool looking artsy-type shots. And, for all of its shortcomings, the Holga does perform as an absolute gem in delivering terrible looking photographs — so, you can imagine its appeal!
Then, in the year 2000, magic happened. Photojournalist David Burnett used a Holga to capture a truly remarkable image of then Presidential hopeful AL Gore during a campaign appearance Gore was making. That image, taken by an el-cheapo Holga “toy” camera, went on to win the 2001 “Eyes of History” award, given out by the White House News Photographers’ Association. Following this, of course, the ever present daemon that so ubiquitously infects the world of photographers — I’m speaking of course of the “If I just use exactly the same gear that photographer-X used, I’ll get shots that are just as good and I’ll win the same accolades” daemon — took hold of the photographic community with both hands. It seemed that just about everybody wanted a Holga!
This phenomena, in recent years, seems to have died down to quite a degree, however. Although, there still are a good many photographers using Holgas to capture those Holga-like funky-funky photos — some now exploit the effects achieved through the use of a Holga wisely and tastefully to produce truly astounding images. And… some, not so much. But, this is how things go in the world of artistic creation, no? C’est la vie de l’art photogrpahic. (I hope Google translate got that right… interjecting French into your writing is classy and makes you appear worldly to your readers.)
The other nice thing about currently available Holgas is that you can still find them relatively easily, and you can still acquire them for relatively not so much a lot of money. (That’s proper English, trust me.) So, if you think you’d like to try your hand at some genuine, authentic, crap-tastic-but-not-completely-crap-tastic-looking Holga photography, you can check out this sale happening here. The price is set at a reasonable thirty bucks, and the sale ends on February 11th, 2013.