When I bought my Holga 120cfn on the Internet, it shipped in from Hong Kong with a little book by its side – the book was called The World Through A Plastic Lens, and it contained the most amazing photographs taken by people all over the world, with colours that popped in one’s eye and announced themselves dramatically; with cities charted out and translated into skylines, etc etc.
Since that day, about 4-5 years ago, my own little Holga has sort of become a way for me to not only experience the world, but also capture it. I have experienced it through the senses (because it’s terribly sad to know the world only through a plastic lens) – seen its towering buildings and endless waters, tasted its dusty air and lain on its grasses – but none of that is really permanent.
Luckily, the world as captured through a plastic lens is firmly ensconced on my wall. One of my favourite books by Susan Sontag (On Photography – sadly left behind in a plastic box in England, now!) says it all about how I feel: “Photographs do not seem to be statements about the world so much as pieces of it, miniatures of reality, that anyone can make or acquire.” Acquisition is so important (even if it sounds dangerously powerful and wrong!) when memories are so unreliable.
One of my most-loved pictures – an accidental double-exposure (I’d forgotten to wind the film properly!), but which gave me the view from my balcony at home (in KL, Malaysia) alongside the Radcliffe Camera (in Oxford). It seemed to encapsulate my life pretty well, flipping between Malaysia and England all the time!)
I feel a bit like I’m painting the world different colours, all with a few chemicals and some colour flash! And I love that something small, plastic and uglily-coloured can have accompanied me on so many adventures, seen so many places, and captured so many memories! All hail cameras.