Low-fidelity Photography

During the semester Photography 1 students usually ask me (at some point) about Advanced Photography. Is it a hard class? Do they get to work with color? Can they come up with their own assignments? Well, it depends; yes; and of course they can!

But one of the main ideas behind Advanced Photography is that I want to open students minds to the "art" of photography. Photography 1 students get so locked into making the perfect print, which is fine at times. But a beautiful photograph can also be created with a very basic camera. That is why I have several different types of cameras available to advanced students. And one of those is the Holga:

The Holga is considered to be a toy camera because of its very basic functions. It only has one shutter speed (controlled by a spring action), two aperture settings (Sunny, approx. f/11, or Partly Sunny, approx. f/8), and a focal length that is a guess to approximately how far away your subject matter is from the lens. The Holga takes what some consider to be very bad images. The subject matter is usually only in focus at the center of the image and the plastic lens is so cheap that it usually fails to spread the light evenly across the film plane, resulting in a darkening of the corners of the image (also known as a vignette).

What I like about students shooting with the Holga (or any other kind of basic camera) is that it frees them from many of the technical guidelines (that they learned in Photography 1) and allows them to concentrate on the image.

For the past three semesters senior Elizabeth Akins has been shooting solely with a Holga and fell in love with the camera so quickly that she bought her own! Her images continue to amaze me and her fellow classmates. Take a look at a couple of her photographs:

For more fantastic photographs shot with Holgas and other low-fidelity camera equipment browse through the galleries at www.toycamera.com. Or, if you are interested in purchasing your own cheap camera for yourself, a friend, or family member check out Urban Outfitters online or Freestyle Photographic Supplies (which now offers Holgas in a variety of body colors!).

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