|The nearest I've ever come to using a Holga - a software plug-in that could mess|
with your digital images.
Before anyone takes offence, this is a tongue-firmly-in-cheek post that's not meant to be taken too seriously - although there is a wee point in there somewhere. It was inspired by an online interview I read involving a Munich photographer who likes film because of its "imperfections" and "unpredictability". As soon as I saw that, I knew what was coming next.
People who grew up in the digital age and then decided to try their hand at film are doing a lot to maintain an interest in the medium, particularly amongst younger photographers. But, sadly, they are often drawn to Lomo/Holga-type machines that are, basically, the Moskvich (or Trabant if you want an East German reference although I can't think why you might) of the camera world. They often leak light, have blurry lenses, over-lapping frames, etc, and many are prized for just those "attributes"!
Since more mainstream publications tend to favour the hipster crew if they're speaking to photographers, the impression many people might get is that this is what film photography is really like: a bunch of people in skinny jeans wandering about with toy cameras, developing ancient, fogged film and shouting "Wow!" when one of the frames actually has an image on it.
As a film photographer all my life, I've got to the stage where, although there's no LCD confirmation, I know more or less what's going to be on any negative I expose. It's not difficult being able to do this: it just requires a sound technique and a repeatable working method. That's it. Lots of film photographers around the world work in this manner expecting and getting highly predictable results.
|A likely suspect…|
However, our Munich photographer gives the impression that she really doesn't know what "imperfections" she's going to find when she develops her film. It sounds like a real shot in the dark if a picture turns out as she thought it might. Here's what she had to say:
"Munich is a city where image is everything; it has a culture of perfection, where everyone thrives for excellence, in terms of body size, style, and general appearance. I turned to photography at the age of fifteen, as I never agreed with society’s ideals and wanted instead to seek out my own interpretation of beauty.
"The medium of analogue allows me to rebel against the so-called ‘perfection’ society forced upon me and recreate a world I deem to be beautiful by all it’s mistakes, grains and imperfections. I explore my ideas through cultures that society sees as ‘less fortunate’, as for me the commercial ideas of perfection are irrelevant.
"For me, film photography is about imperfection. Whether it may be with discontinued or expired film, or finding a camera at a flea market that has a sentimental value to the owner who previously used it. The authenticity of the photo I take using this camera adds a further level of depth to the image taken.
"Unpredictability and flawed outcomes are two intrinsic elements when it comes to shooting in film; I love the excitement and satisfaction this brings when I develop the images."Now, I get it. I know what she's saying and I agree that some Lomo-type photographs have a lot of charm but any digital photographer thinking of having a bash at analogue might come away with the idea after reading the interview that all film photography is a hit or miss affair - and that's a trifle annoying for those snappers who have worked on their technique with a view to achieving "perfection" and "predictability" in their photography!
As I said at the start, this isn't an anti-hipster rant. In fact, Cath implied there's something of the hipster about me (she actually said I had an arse like a kale pot* but I think I know what she really meant). But please, hipsters, if you want to say that you like film because of its imperfections, unpredictability and for all the surprises it gives you then at least acknowledge that the more anal among us tend to see things a little differently!
* A large, round pot used for making vast quantities of soup.