What some of you may not know is that my back round is actually in black and white, Zone system photography. This is a method of photography developed by Ansel Adams which, to put it simply, allows the artist to achieve as much or as little detail in both shadow and highlight areas of the image by taking specific light meter readings and adjusting your exposure and development according to one’s specific vision. While roll film can be used, it’s potential is really maximized with large format sheet film. It sounds wicked complicated, but it’s actually ridiculously simple in practice. I became obsessed with it during my second year at NESoP and dedicated my graduating portfolio to it.
Because of all of this–I never really bothered with color film after first term “color experience” class. For me, it just didn’t have the potential for creative control that I craved so desperately in black and white film.
When I was out to dinner with my good friend Jon a few weeks back, he mentioned that his Holga is one of his favorite photographic instruments because it has gotten him out of so many creative ruts. The Holga, in extreme contrast to say, a 4×5 camera, affords the artist almost NO control whatsoever. Really–a holga has one shutter speed and two apertures: “cloudy” and “sunny”. I’m serious. While I always loved the idea of Holga, and I loved looking at my peers’ Holga work, and heck I even own a Holga–I never really felt like it was for me. Just the notion of the lack of control in a Holga made me nervous to think about. However, as I haven’t done any serious black and white work for a couple of years, and I’ve been craving to just play and have fun and not worry too much–I decided to dust of my Holga (which I had used like, twice before), and load it up with not black and white, but color film (Kodak 400 VC 120). I was nervous that the images wouldn’t be “right” (whatever that means), or that they would “cool” but in a lazy way (a trap of many Holga users–the images look “cool” because they’re captured with a Holga, but they’re otherwise boring, uninteresting pictures), but I decided that it had been long enough since I’d tried something wholly new and experimental for me–so I went for it. I figured our annual Midwest road trip would be a perfect place to try out my venture…so try it out I did. And here’s some of the results: