Holga, My Dear, I Love You

Detail of a photograph made with Holga by Vanessa N. Arita

I wonder if I can explain how much I miss shooting film. If I had a million dollars, I think aside from buying a house somewhere really cool, I’d probably set up my own darkroom in that house. I’d also probably buy a bunch of Holga cameras and show all of my friends how fun it is to shoot with them.

Holga Love

With digital photography and Instagram being so popular these days, you’re likely not familiar with a Holga. They are plastic cameras, with plastic lenses; the most famous of which take 120 film. This camera has a cult following; the “shoddy” construction translates into some pretty cool effects on your film due to leaked light.

In college, I took a couple of photography courses as part of my degree in graphic design. One of our assignments was to experiment with one of these wonderful gadgets. If you’re lucky, Holga creates beautiful vignetting on your shots, which ended up being my case.

In the detail above, you can see the beautiful grainy effect you can get with Holga. If my memory doesn’t betray me, I chose to use 400 ISO film for this shoot, since our prof had already warned us about blur and other imperfections. In the end, I absolutely loved what I saw in the darkroom.

In this series, I took a tongue-in-cheek approach to examining dating. Here is a gallery of the frames I kept for the project.

The first image is the only one I manipulated a bit, to enhance the vignetting and accentuate the heart shape around the angry couple. Holga gave this series a great feel, with rich darks and bright, almost dream-like whites.

My friends were always the best models, who took direction from me very well; they made me feel like a film director! Silent film was a very strong influence in the aesthetic of these photographs.

The cutest part of the story is that these two went on to get married a few years after they posed for this shoot. I was a bridesmaid at their wedding.

Someday I’ll be in a darkroom again. Meanwhile, I can daydream and reminisce about when I was in college and could rally a couple of friends to model for me on a nice afternoon.

What would you do if you had a million dollars?

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