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Inle Lake, Burma

February 15, 2011

Inle Lake, Burma

I wouldn’t call myself a photographer but I take a lot of photos, and for over five years I’ve been shooting with a little plastic camera called a Holga. You’ve probably heard of them. They’ve become super trendy in the last few years with the success of a camera company called Lomography that has really taken off recently. They have deals with hip stores like Urban Outfitters and stuff, and they seem to have cornered the market for plastic, analogue cameras. Holgas, however, have been around for a lot longer than Lomography and they have a spirit all of their own that has absolutely nothing to do with the company. They are great little cameras, and whenever possible I try to carry one wherever I go. Something that I love about them is that you don’t get caught up in reading the light or composing your shot, it’s too simple a tool for that. There are only two apertures (sunny and shady) and one shutter speed (about 1/100) and no viewfinder. With the Holga, it is all about making the most out of the least possible tools. It is a radically different experience that shooting a hundred shots in a couple minutes with my digital SLR, and I think one that really helps balance me as a photographer, to remember that no matter how much effort I put into composing, framing, and predicting light on any given shot, there is something totally uncontrollable about taking great photographs. Something that we just can’t predict for as photographers, that we catch without meaning to in that one hundredth of a second. That is not to say that photography isn’t a highly skilled art form, or that photographers aren’t better prepared to capture an incredible moment beautifully than the average person (because they are), but rather that sometimes great photos come out of organic moments in time that we happen to capture instead of contrived ones that we plan. Holgas give you a certain freedom and often times when I’m burned out on my SLR, I pick up my Holga instead and leave the instant gratification behind. This happened to me a lot while I was traveling through Southeast Asia, and the photograph above is the result of one of those outings.

If you’re interested in buying a Holga, I can personally recommend Randy Smith’s hand-modified Holgas at Holgamods. The photograph above was taken with one of his and, of the Holgas that I have owned, this one is the best. Also if you are interested there are some great galleries on Flickr dedicated to Holga photographs.

I will, periodically, post some of my Holgas and other photos from my travels. And while it doesn’t have anything to do with geography directly, it certainly does personally. They help document my path and that, for me at least, is very geographical…

One Comment leave one →
  1. Clay Nowak permalink
    March 3, 2011 11:29 am

    I still want prints, big ones.

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