Thursday, October 9, 2014

Holga Feature Photographer Aline Smithson

I am really excited to bring you this month's Holga feature photographer.  I am a huge fan of Aline's work, as well as her blog, Lenscratch.  Thank you so much for taking the time to speak about your Holga and toy camera work Aline!

After a career as a New York Fashion Editor, Aline Smithson is currently represented by galleries in the U.S. and Europe and published throughout the world. Aline founded the blogzine, LENSCRATCH, has been the Gallery Editor for Light Leaks Magazine, and a contributing writer for numerous publications. She reviews and teaches workshops at photography festivals across the United States, is a juror for a various organizations, and has been teaching at the Los Angeles Center of Photography since 2001. In 2012, she received the Rising Star Award from the Griffin Museum of Photography for her contributions to the photographic community. She lives and works in Los Angeles.



How did you get introduced to your first Holga and how long have you been shooting?

I was first exposed to the world of toy cameras around 1997-1998.  One of my teachers worked almost exclusively with the Diana Camera and I soon became hooked on the kind of effects that toy cameras produced and the sense of memory and nostalgia they created.  I bought my first Holga in 1999 and was truly inspired by the camera.

In 2001, I began teaching classes in the Toy Camera, specifically the Holga—at that time, there were only one or two websites that were dedicated to toy camera imagery, places where to learn how to alter the Holga and demonstrations on how to create a variety of effects.  I am really grateful to those early adoptees as they taught me a lot.  Over the years, the whole Holga landscape changed, with books, a ton of different models and options and a new community of toy camera lovers came into being.  I worked as a Gallery Editor for Light Leaks Magazine, a publication dedicated to toy camera imagery, and loved being part of that community.


Skipping Stones, from Regarding Henry

What is it about the Holga that draws you to it? Why do you shoot with it?

What I love about the Holga is the simplicity.  There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles and it allows you to really consider the subject in front of you.  I also like that the results are always a surprise—sometimes successful and unexpected and sometimes disappointing, but that’s part of the process.

I started shooting with toy cameras because I wanted to create work that had a sense of nostalgia and were artful, but it also the camera fit with my lifestyle, allowing me to carry it with me wherever I went.

John in Longpond, from Paradise
The Tallest, from Paradise

Please tell me a bit about your series in which you use a toy camera

For my series, Shadow and Stains, I use both Holga and Diana imagery.  It’s a series where in response to the closure of my community darkroom, I wanted to make a series that shifted how we see the “perfect” darkroom print—I cut negatives, overlapped images, added text in the darkroom, and finished it with washes of oil paint.  It was completely liberating and exciting to be creating something different.

On a recent trip to China, I shot a lot with toy cameras, hoping to do a series similar to Shadows and Stains in approach, but with a different intent.  I still haven’t had time to get going on that project.


Owned by Stieglitz, from Shadows and Stains
Not as Interesting, from Shadows and Stains
Moving Through, from Shadows and Stains
Look Both Ways, from Shadows and Stains

What are some of your biggest challenges shooting with a Holga and do you have any tips for over coming them?

Well, obviously the biggest challenge is to remember to remove the lens cap!  And that took me awhile to learn!  I was once at Dodger Stadium, shooting my daughter in the middle of a baseball game wearing a gold hat from Thailand and as I ran around the bleachers thinking I was so cool, a man tugged on my sleeve to tell me that I still had the lens cap on!  I slinked back to my seat and that was a mistake I never made again.

But probably the biggest challenge is not know exactly what you are getting, especially when you are trying out things like double exposure or overlapping images. I think if you go into the process knowing that perfection is out the window, you will be less frustrated by the various results.


Girl, from Inside out
Mother, from Inside Out

What is your biggest piece of advice for someone just starting out with a Holga?

Expect to be surprised! Also, if you have never shot film, there is a learning curve to loading and unloading film and to realizing that what’s on the negative is only half of the creativity…the darkroom print can really shift from the original negative.

Lego Hollywood, from Unreal Reality
Lego Rhino, from Unreal Reality

What other cameras do you have in your arsenal?

I have a gazillion Holgas, several Dianas, two Hassleblads, 4 twin lens Rolleiflexs’s (not all are operational), a Mamiya 6, a Mamiya 7, and my old friend, a Pentax K1000.

I still only shoot film.

Favorite photo film(s)?

For black and white, Ilford HP5…for color, Kodak Portra 400.

Lego Lipstick Building, from Unreal Reality
What inspires you?

In a word, everything.  My family, my life, the world around me, movies and more movies, the poignancy of every day life—the loss and joy that we live with on a daily basis.  I look more to paintings for inspiration than photography, but I am plenty inspired by how photographic image-makers are interpreting the world.

Links:


Website: http://www.alinesmithson.com
Lenscratch Blog: http://lenscratch.com
Aline's Collective, Six Shooters: http://www.sixshootersonline.com

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

World Toy Camera Day Is...

Hey Everyone!

World Toy Camera Day is fast approaching!  Typically it is held annually on the third Saturday of October.  This year it will be October 18, 2014.  So stock up on film and dust off your toys!


Join in on the fun and share your photos in the following ways:

WTCD Facebook Group

WTCD Flickr Group

Tag your photos with #WTCD2014 on Twitter.



Happy shooting!

Jen

Friday, September 19, 2014

And the Holga Week Winners Are...

I am excited to announce the winners for Holga Week 2014! (The Holga Week blog is not cooperating right now so I am posting these here for the time being).

As you know, there were three judges - Michelle Bates, Christine So from Holga Inspire, and myself, HolgaJen. Each judge picked one winner who will receive a prize from Holga Inspire (winners - check your email!). We also each picked two "honorable mentions" because there were so many great photos submitted, it was hard to choose just one! Both the winners, and the honorable mentions will have a chance to have their Holga work featured on The Holga Darkroom blog (this blog!). I will be in touch with each of you soon to arrange this if you are interested.

And now, for the photos!

Judge: Michelle Bates

Winner:
Artist Name: Ross Togashi
Location: Honolulu, Hawai‘i USA
Title: Paradise Seat
Holga Products Used: Holga 120N converted to a self-made "Pinholga" pinhole camera.
Website: www.flickr.com/people/36exposures



Honorable Mention:
Artist Name: Kendra Laflin
Location: Austin, TX
Title: Texas Rosebush
Holga Products Used: Holga 120N
Website: https://www.flickr.com/photos/triana/


Honorable Mention:
Artist Name: Ozan Mutlu Dursun
Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Title: Swallow 2
Holga Products Used: Holga 120 GCFN
Website: www.ozanmutludursun.com


Judge: Holga Inspire

Winner:
Artist Name: Frau Inga (Inge van Leipsig)
Location: Rotterdam
Title: The love locks horseman
Holga products used: Holga 120 GN Kodak E100G cross processed
Website: www.light-camera-inga.com


Honorable Mention:
Artist Name: Ross Togashi
Location: Honolulu, Hawai‘i USA
Title: Paradise Seat
Holga Products Used: Holga 120N converted to a self-made "Pinholga" pinhole camera.
Website: www.flickr.com/people/36exposures


Honorable Mention:
Artist Name: Ross Togashi
Location: Honolulu, Hawai‘i USA
Title: Stream Dream
Holga Products Used: Holga 120N converted to a self-made "Pinholgaroid" pinhole camera.
Website: www.flickr.com/people/36exposures


Judge: Jennifer Henriksen (HolgaJen)

Winner:
Artist Name: Kathi Bondzio
Location: Solingen, Germany
Title: Apple
Holga products used: Holga 120 FN, Holga Close-Up Lens CL-120 (120mm)
Website: https://www.flickr.com/photos/some-keepsakes/


Honorable Mention:
Artist Name: Shane Appleby
Location: Lynbridge, Devon, UK
Title: Untitled
Holga Products Used: Holga 120N, Double exposure using Fujifilm Acros 100. Home developed in R09 (Rodinal)


Honorable Mention:
Artist Name: Katherine Heck
Location: Davis, California, USA
Title: Clouds and shadows
Holga Products Used: Holga 120N (Holgawood) and Portra 120 film


Because judging was done blind (no names were seen) and we had a bit of overlap in the photos chosen during judging, I have chosen an extra honorable mention

Artist Name: Simon Le Boulh
Location: Christchurch- New Zealand
Title: The way
Holga Products Used: Holga 120N
Website: http://www.flickr.com/photos/slvrspn/


Thank you to everyone who participated - Holga Week 2014 was a great success and I hope to do it again next year!  If you would like to contribute to help keep the Holga Week website running, small donations are appreciated.  The link is on the top right column of this blog or on the Holga Week About page.

Jen

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