Friends and Film–Thoughts on Polaroid and Holga

© Eliot J. Grigo

Film photography strikes back. It seems as if the film medium is beginning to become popular again. Digital applications such as Instagram have actually revived film by virtually advertising the medium on the internet in an excessive amount. The Impossible Camera Project has also been a way to regenerate the production of film and film cameras, by recreating the original cameras such as collections from Polaroid, and marketing them in a limited-edition version. If you check Ebay, you will find that people are still purchasing Polaroid SX-70 Land cameras for $100-200, when the original cost was $180. Without a doubt, people want these old film cameras, and for a good reason too. I believe that now people want to discover the origin of this Instagram-medium, and how can they create the real thing.


Recently, I have been interested in experimenting with Polaroid and Holga cameras. Not owning a smartphone, I cannot constantly post things that are happening, on Instagram or Facebook. However I can bring my trusty lightweight Holga 120N, and then spend hours developing in a dark room. Which brings me to a present-day concept: what used to take hours to do, now takes seconds. If you want to post say 5 pictures of your Friday night on Facebook, using Instagram, it might take on average a half-a-minute per picture (taking the picture, and then posting it). To achieve the same look, with a film camera like the Holga, it would take approximately an hour or two per photograph (taking the picture, processing the negatives, developing on paper, scanning the picture, and posting to Facebook). There are essentially three extra steps that take quite a bit of time to do.

© Eliot J. Grigo

© Eliot J. Grigo

Well of course this is obvious–duh, you have to develop film, but the question is: is it worth the extra time? I think so–here’s why. In today’s world, showing up to a social gathering or event, with an iPhone, is naturally expected–it’s what the majority of people do. To show up to that same social gathering or event, with a film camera or Polaroid–it changes the dynamic of the event. Here is one example. Below is a gallery of photographs that I took with my friends. When I brought out the Holga with my friends, and started taking pictures, everyone got more excited because it wasn’t the norm.


We weren’t saying “Let’s Instagram this bro!” and remember the moment when we logged back on Facebook–we were creating moments (I’ll explain). Instead of merely taking a picture for the sake of taking a picture to put on Facebook, it became more of an activity, where the camera, and ourselves, were interacting and creating a dynamic evening. Having to actually reload film, which may seem tedious to the iPhone owner, was actually refreshing. To be forced to more carefully choose which moments to photograph, makes you think a little bit more as well. For me, the photographer, the night never ended, because a few days later I spent a few hours developing a couple rolls, and then showed the prints to my friends, creating another meaningful moment with my friends, excited to see themselves on paper instead of a screen.

Would you agree that taking pictures with say a Polaroid or Holga makes a simple get-together more fun, and maybe even more rememberable or meaningful? Let me know what your thoughts are.


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