Seeing Double: The Wild Side of the Holga
When it’s good, it’s REALLY GOOD.
I’ve written twice about my struggles with my plastic Holga camera: the film that came out blank, the strange solarized color prints. I’ve gone through phases of completely ignoring the camera out of pure frustration.
But recently, the Holga has been working for me in really wild ways.
It helped that I bought some new 120mm film. The faded, solarized images resulted from the expired Ektachrome I was using; a newly-purchased (though still expired) roll finally gave me the cross-processed look I was craving.
It’s easy to make double exposures with a Holga– so easy, in fact, that sometimes it happens unintentionally. (All you need to do is neglect to advance the film. You can take as many exposures as you like, though too many might wash out the image.) My Holga struggles obscured my attempts to play with the camera’s possibilities– the layered images, the multicolored flash, the accidental light leaks.
And play is really what it’s all about.
Shooting film makes a photographer give up full control, and using a fickle plastic camera forces you to embrace fortuitous circumstance and unpredictable results. That looseness is a kind of freedom, and lets me have fun with the camera. I think it’s important, generally, to never lose your sense of play, and the Holga reminds me of that constantly.
I’m hoping my Holga struggles are permanently behind me, so the fun of the camera can continue to outweigh the frustration. It’s a dreamy, layered, lo-fi world through this plastic lens, even more so when you’re seeing double.