Gear Theory Point & Shoot

Halina AF700 Review – How it saved me from Creative Block – By Miriam Woodburn

May 20, 2016

The chances are that if you’re a creative individual you’d have come across it at least once. You feel like your work isn’t good enough, you know you need to do more work in order to improve but you’re not feeling inspired, so you force yourself, but then you don’t like what you made, so you feel even less inspired. I found myself in such a spiral recently.  I was experiencing creative block.

The problem was, I wanted to take my work to the next ‘professional’ level, which resulted in the mind-set that unless a shot was planned out, styled or otherwise had a deep, meaningful concept behind it, it wasn’t worth taking.  As a result of this unrealistic ambition and seeing that time and resources are oft scarce, I ended up not making much work at all.

Enter the Halina AF700, I found it being sold for £1 in my local pawn shop and I expected it to end up in my camera graveyard (a shoe box of broken cameras under my bed). But I put a roll of Poundland film through it and it actually worked, and the results weren’t too shabby! When I was suffering from creative block I had become disconnected from what got me into photography in the first place, a compulsion to document my life. The pocket sized body and limited controls helped me to let go of my fears and go back to the joy of snapping pictures.


The fact that it’s impossible to take a photo that is technically ‘good’ or ‘high quality’ forces you to think of ways to use composition, colour and the actual content to make a compelling or pleasing image. This has pushed me creatively much more than my ‘better’ cameras because I know that I can take a boring picture of a leaf with a more high tech set up and still make it look pretty, but with the Halina that same picture would be just that, a boring picture of a leaf.


The cheap plastic body (can I call the design ‘retro’ or will make me seem like someone who only shoots 35mm to score hipster points?), means I almost never hesitate to get it out in social situations. It is also very easy to operate when drunk which results in hilarious party pictures (I don’t like taking photos on my phone so this is a fun alternative).


Loosening up and a taking a more casual approach to taking pictures has slowly dragged me up from a slump. As creatives, we constantly have to push back against the fear; the fear of not being good enough, of running out of ideas, of failing. Through my experiment with the Halina I have learned not to take myself (or shooting) too seriously and get back to having fun and using photography as a tool to document my experiences. This has helped take some of the fear out of creating, what techniques and tricks to you have to beat creative block?

For more of my work, thoughts and adventures see my Blog.

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  • Reply
    Hamish Gill
    May 20, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    Thanks Miriam!
    This feels very relatable!

    • Reply
      Miriam Woodburn
      May 21, 2016 at 2:05 pm

      Thanks for publishing, Hamish!

      • Reply
        Hamish Gill
        May 21, 2016 at 8:11 pm

        No worries at all! A pleasure – I enjoyed flicking through your blog! The quails egg thing really made me chuckle!

  • Reply
    Daniel Fjäll
    May 21, 2016 at 8:29 am

    I can definitely relate to the feeling. I recently had a similar experience where I picked up a really early digital camera without a back LCD (Leica M-D on the cheap?) which got me back on track. Or I just get back to what sparked the interest in photography in the first place – admiring work of other talented photographers.

  • Reply
    Frank Lehnen
    May 21, 2016 at 9:30 am

    Nice write-up, Miriam. It does sometimes take a ‘new’ camera to get going again.

  • Reply
    Charles Higham
    May 21, 2016 at 8:11 pm

    Thanks Miriam for a refreshing and useful reminder that the limitations of a cheap and relatively basic camera are actually quite liberating.

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