Sometimes it's hard to remember how little we actually need to create a photograph, especially in front of all the advanced equipments. A black box, light, and a light sensitive film or paper compose the basic essence of the process today, even as it did in the 19th Century when photography was invented. Addition to those, many mechanical devices and techniques were developed to help us produce quicker, easier, or better photographs. New generations of equipments were presented every few years or months to fulfill the “user’s” or “market’s” needs. We now have a variety of choices to make even before actually taking any pictures.

Of course, the light meters and the zone system do make things work. But as things keep getting more and more complicated with knobs and switches, how much human element is left there to be differentiated from the mechanical rationality? In the process of finding my answer to it, I selected a 15 dollar plastic Holga camera to serve as a vehicle that would force me to work differently. There is no control over aperture or shutter speed. I have to guess at focus and never know exactly what I will get. The attention of the photographic activity shifted from what I saw behind the viewfinder to what is in front of the lens which enabled me to recognize the world again, and hopefully that can lead to more “me” in the picture.



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All texts and photographs by Arthur Liou © 1997
liou@ufl.edu