I know, Holga and expired film, that sounds like a total cliché of Lomography and hipsters. But for me it was the first taste of the world of a film photography. And it all started by a pure accident.
I stumbled upon this Holga while cleaning our flat, hidden in a storage space under a bed, an old remnant of my wife’s short lasting photography interest in her late teenage years. I never shot with a film before and to be honest, I had no intentions to start with it. But as the opportunity was sitting right at my hands, I decided I will give it a go. Having no idea how deep this road will take me.
I started taking photography seriously just a few years ago, shooting strictly with mirrorless cameras. So not only that the film was a completely unknown medium to me, even concepts of a rangefinder and a zone focusing were something I never really experienced before. I was confused, but at the same time so eager to learn everything about it. And luckily, I have a friend who gave me a great introduction to the film photography and Holgas.
So, my starting point was a Holga 120FN, which firstly needed a proper cleaning from all the leftover battery acid. I guess batteries leaked all over it sometime in the past decade. This also meant no flash, as its circuit simply disintegrated. Alongside it I had three rolls of 10 years expired Colorplus 200, a 35mm adapter kit and a light meter app freshly installed on my phone.
For next two months, Holga became my inseparable partner for all photowalks around my current home of Shenzhen, China. Going out with friends from our local photoclub, testing it on street photography, architecture, landscapes and anything else that offered enough light for my expired films and slow lens. And when I was not out shooting, I went deep into online sources, learning so many new fascinating facts about the world of film, analogue cameras and a photography overall. And 35mmc was very helpful in that.
How did the first rolls end up? Not as good as I hoped, not as bad as I feared. They are very noisy, some shots were out of focus or not properly framed and few shots in an early morning taught me a harsh lesson about a proper exposure. But all these shots feel unique to me and I find myself going over them over and over, something I rarely do with my digital shots.
Was this experience enough to convince me to join the ranks of film photographers? The lovely Olympus OM-10 hanging on my camera strap and a fridge slowly filling up with new films should give you a clear answer. You might see me around the 35MMC more in the future.