Suffering For Art

Well, it's not suffering, really, just severe inconvenience, which is sort of mild suffering.  I refer, of course, to waiting for film to be developed.  Digital photography has spoiled me rotten. 

Kris, Wendy, Ellie, Marlene, Brenda and Lynn explored the Holga camera today in the LRB.

But Ellie is tempting me to wade back into that world where good things may come to those who wait.  Her Holga Photography workshop today gave us lots of creative ideas to chew on and to dream about.  All those photography "rules" I talked about the other day?  The Holga taunts us to break most of them, just because of its low-tech, primitive limitations.  It calls us to stretch our brains and use those limitations as a launching pad to beautiful images.

 Ellie vividly described artistic concepts in terms all of us could understand, and she backed them up with gorgeous examples.

And Ellie knows what she's talking about - oh, the gorgeous images she shared with us to illustrate all the wonderful "tricks" the Holga can perform in the hands of a practiced artist.  But not all the images resulted from careful planning - many of them were serendipitous treasures that come from just the crazy combination of light, time, angle, film type, developing skill, quirky subject, and random chance. 

 Loading the Holga is a low-tech operation.  There's nothing automatic about this toy camera.

You look through a square hole in the plastic which serves as a viewfinder, press the plastic tab that operates the shutter, advance the film by twisting the plastic knob and watching the numbers scroll past the little red plastic window on the back until you're at the end of the roll, pop out the roll, lick the tab to seal it shut, and mail it off to Timbuktu.  Ellie develops her own black and white film, which cuts down some on the delay, but without that specific talent, you begin The Wait.  Did your masterpiece stick to the film?  Only time will tell. 

 The rain stopped in plenty of time for us to move out of the "lecture" into the hands-on application.  And we scritched some critters, too.

I hate to wait, if you haven't noticed.  I was shocked that we didn't have to wait very long for our Share Fiber to come home from the processor and that was such a joy.  I'm still waiting for my new camera and I'm going just a little crazy over it.  I knit with bulky yarn so that I can finish my projects faster.  I really hate to wait.

 Lynn and Wendy plan out some great shots together in the pasture.

But I know that waiting is not a bad thing.  In fact, it grows patience, perseverence and uh, character.  I wash my dishes by hand, on purpose, to slow myself down.  I have a stoneware snail in my garden to remind me to stop rushing and breathe.  I make my own yarn, for crying out loud.  I really want to mature past this need to have success and lasting artistic achievement NOW.

So I welcome your reminders to sit down, slow down, and make some time-consuming art once in a while.  Maybe with a Holga.

ETA: I forgot to mention that Ellie is developing the pictures we took here today and she will publish them to a Flickr set for us.  I'll let you know when they're available, and you can see what first-time Holga-ers can do...  After we wait a bit.


  1. I'll be interested to see what you did. Interesting photographs arereally special.

  2. Anonymous10:55 PM

    Looks like you all had a lot of fun! Love digital, but I have much nostalgia for my days and late nights in the UNT photo lab. Can't wait to see the images!!


  3. cool, looking forward to checking out your photos

  4. My son's second semester if freshman yr as a photography major at the Art Institute of Boston concentrated on the Holga. He is a HUGE proponent, and his photos are lovely. I wish the same for you. I hope you'll enjoy using one & enjoy the lesson in patience once you see what it yields!

  5. It is enormous fun for me every time to get new adherents into the Holga cult :P And always curious to see what pathway your pictures will take and what style you'll develop.

    But I don't have your talent to describe the event with such humor AND insight :) The Wait! Knitting is an exercise in patience and I need a stoneware snail in my life, too. But sure you know patience very well. Keeping a farm and following nature's cycles requires a lot if it!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts