Wednesday, April 1, 2009


"We have all become numbed with photography, there is no denying it, but a chunky camera made almost entirely of plastic has been put on this Earth to save us."

Some history on the Dusseldorf School of Photography:  'A group of students at the Kunstakademie Dusseldorf in the mid 1970s who studied under the influential photographers Bern and Hiller Becher, known for their rigorous devotion to the 1920s German tradition of Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity). The Bechers’ photographs were clear, black and white pictures of industrial archetypes.'

And now:  'Word on the street in Berlin has it that there's a massive reorganization going on in Düsseldorf. Apparently, the students were required to sell all their large-format equipment and to instead use Holga toy cameras. Several people independently told me about this, and over the past few days I have been trying to get this confirmed in Düsseldorf (where I know some people). All I managed to find out is that in all of Düsseldorf, Holgas are completely sold out! Apparently, some students are trying to figure out whether using a "Colour Sampler" camera will do - I guess habits are hard to break?!'

This bit o' street gossip made me chuckle when I thought of how I went from using my holga camera to pushing my digital SLR to produce holga-like images. It was simply a matter of cost and convenience for a high-production portfolio series, I still carry my holga with me when I'm shooting outside the context of a series. I would love to hear more about the push to get rid of large format analog photography equipment (required to sell, really? not just asked to put it aside for a semester?), a plastic camera is surely more convenient, but you can't brag that it's much more cost effective or environmentally friendly. It's also an interesting breach from the historical 'New Objectivity' school of photography because you really can't get more subjective or sentimental than a holga image. Maybe it was just a push to put away the giant cameras and force students to get more intimate with their subjects. Hmm.

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