Trading the HASSELBLAD for a HOLGA: Thomas Solecki

October 23, 2008


Yesterday I found an advert on a German website: “Thomas Solecki is selling his Hasselblad 500CM. From now on he will only use his HOLGA for medium format film photography.”
FYI, a Hasselblad is an expensive medium format camera, THE classic of portrait photography. A HOLGA is a plastic camera from China that costs only a few dollars and has a hundred flaws like light leaks, out of focus images, vignetting, distortion etc etc etc… The images very much remind me of pinhole camera photographs. More HOLGA images you can see here.

THOMAS SOLECKI is a photographer from Germany’s western industrial region. He impressed me very much with his portraits of people from his hometwon BOCHUM, and with a series of HOLGA images from New York that was beautifully executed and presented.

So why would anyone exchange a superb tool like a Hasselblad for a camera that is famous for its technical flaws?
Maybe because imagery, i.e. art, is not about technical perfection but about imagination and expression. When Thomas spoke to us about his new York project he stated that he had intended to show New York in the way that he had imagined the city in his dreams. The HOLGA was the perfect choice for this. With its technical flaws it produced hazy images, full of bizarre light, colors, and distortions. Any “perfect tool” would not have been able to do that.

I am glad that there is still a considerably large community of photographers who do not follow the digital mainstream of seemingly technical perfect photography that too often only produce “more of the same” cliche. Images that we see every day on the covers of magazines: flat, boring exchangeable. I am glad that there is still some room for phantasy and individual creativity, in contrast to “picture control”, “photoshop” and other software that just takes every individuality out of our images.


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