Analogue in a digital world: Interview with the Holga Inspire team


Holga produce low-spec analogue cameras that go against the grain of the digital age. First invented in 1982, Holga are still going strong in spite of the ever technologically evolving camera industry. We talk to the Holga Inspire team about their place in the world of photography today.

Cairo at Dawn – by Gheedon taken with a HolgaWhile the majority of the photography industry is going down the road of higher spec cameras, Holga embraces imperfections and film photography. Why did Holga decide to go down such a different road when compared to other conventional camera brands? 

We made this decision 30 years ago. At the time photography was exclusive to the middle classes and the founder of Holga – Mr T.M Lee – wanted to create a camera that was technically and financially accessible so that anyone could experience photography. Three decades on we haven’t changed and still keep this goal in mind, continuously developing new products and cameras that most people can enjoy and afford since the costs of keeping up with the digital race can be very high. While we do our best to preserve film photography, we also understand the cost of film photography has increased too, which is why we have explored other roads by inventing more innovative Holga accessories for digital products for our users’ needs. We have developed Holga Lens and Filters turret for the iPhone 4, and Holga lenses for other notable DSLR’s. However, we have also recently released a new panoramic camera for film photographers. This way we still keep our values, yet we are always looking for ways to serve the needs of our users and meet market demand by being adaptive and innovative.

Of course, not only does our company continue to embrace our recognized trademark for imperfections, we are deeply grateful for our fans and photographers who also find the beauty of imperfections an essential part of their art. Their support drives us to keep going along this road and motivates us to create more and more new products.

Lake Eerie - Matt Callow, taken on a HolgaHave the big camera brands such as Sony, Nikon, and Canon had a negative impact on Holga at all? 

We adore their cameras and the advances in technology offer photographers a whole new level of experiences. However, we don’t see this in a negative light as people have the right to choose what suits them best; on the other hand we like to think we provide an alternative tool for creative expression. We believe film and digital photography can co-exist and complement each other. Indeed, digital cameras have changed our picture taking habits, but on the other hand when people use the Holga camera it is an entirely different experience and one you can’t get from digital. Now that we have developed new product attachments for adapting digital cameras, we are excited to see how the combination of Holga and high tech works together. Our hope is that it will be a positive way to bring the Holga experience to the digital world.

As images with a vintage or retro look are popular, it is clear that many people today embrace lomography. Why do you think this remains popular at a time when camera technology is so advanced? 

Indeed, there are sizeable communities who are really into analogue photography and they are willing to spend time in darkrooms and allow themselves to be taken in by the charm of film. There are many reasons for its popularity. I think it is mainly thanks to the internet as more photographers can now show their Holga images online and share them with people around the world. We often receive updates from photographers showing their Holga photos on their blogs and websites, so cyberspace has helped in the revival of film photography. Also, apps for smartphones also indirectly promote our cameras and as a result some people may get the urge to try out a real Holga camera.

I also think that the shooting process has a lot to do with its popularity, film photography slows down a person’s pace and compels people to have different thought processes. They need to take the time to consider the subject, light, the composition and the unpredictability of the results are simply more attractive, personal in nature and add a very real dimension to what they do and the results they obtain. Also, film grain, quality and texture along with our Holga signature styles mean that the results are consistently mesmerizing.

Small Highway, by Alessiodral taken on a HolgaAnd the big question – What do you think the future holds for photography? Will there still be a place for lomography?

Like many other art forms and fashion trends, photography has also transcended time. Take music as an example; some of us prefer pop or the latest tunes while others prefer nostalgia and older styles. We are confident that the future holds a special place for film photography since photography remains experimental in nature. It is an organic and dynamic process and we believe that a sizable number of photographers and users – regardless of their age – will explore and eventually be captured by the creative world of film photography.

Interestingly, we often hear from photographers who say that they have been using the Holga for a long time and that the digital age doesn’t affect their choices. They always have both in their camera bags ready for action. Once you build up a relationship with something, it is hard to let it go and we believe it is likewise for film photography and imagine that people won’t lose their passion for it and that it will continue to be significant for this reason. A large number of photography teachers and artists will continue teaching and showcasing their own style of fine art photography, and our company strives to move with them and play our personal part in preserving the art of film photography. In all, future and trend work like a circle so evidently there is always a backward or retro trend to balance things out. So, we could say that the new needs the old and vice versa. For this reason, everyone at Holga believes analogue photography can endure the test of time and whether we consider recent trends to be a revival or simply a continuing passion for classical photography it will always have a place in post-modern photography.

Visit Holga Inspire.


In pictures: Creative film photography of the Eiffel Tower

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