How to Use Your New Holgaroid Camera

1. Get at least two packs of film to start off with, so that you’ll have plenty of chances to learn what you’re doing.

2. Squint at the included directions for attaching your new Polaroid back to the Holga camera. Squint even more at the directions for loading the film. Make a guess as to what the photos are indicating, and fiddle with it until everything appears to be in place.

3. Take a picture of your cat in what you hope is bright enough light for the film ISO. Pull the photo out of the camera in a complicated process involving a little paper leader strip, and a film door that’s hard to pry open even with fingernails.

4. Remember that using peel-apart film probably means that there’s an optimal length of time to let it develop before opening, and fumble for the film box to find out what that is. Glance at the time. Try to guess how long it’s been since you removed the film from the camera. Give up and open it a minute later.

Holgaroid Experiment

5. Wonder why there is no cat in this photo.

6. Decide that low light levels are probably the culprit, and sprint outside as soon as the gloomy winter weather breaks into sunshine.

7. Fail to pull the film out smoothly, feeding it instead into the little slot the paper tabs (which tell you what number print you’re on) are supposed to come out of. Open the camera to clear the jam, crossing your fingers you haven’t exposed the entire film pack to light.

Holgaroid Experiment

8. Hope that aggressive cropping will be enough to keep the picture from being a complete waste.

9. Spend some time reading Flickr forum threads for tips. Decide that you’ll just try to get over the minimum development time and not worry after that, since it’s the only way you’re going to be able to take pictures outside (needing to let the opened prints dry flat on a clean surface is kinda limiting).

10. Go outside and take more pictures.

Holgaroid Experiment

11. Conclude that no amount of wishful thinking will convert “bright overcast” into “direct sunlight”.

Holgaroid Experiment

12. Watch the weather forecast anxiously, hoping for actual sunshine to occur.

13. Run outside during the next available sunbreak. Finish off the pack of film.

Holgaroid Experiment

14. Admire the imperfect, unexpected results.

Holgaroid Experiment

6 responses to “How to Use Your New Holgaroid Camera

  1. That was hilarious! Thanks for the excellent tutorial!

  2. love that last one, though it looks like you have a lightleak on the left side of the camera or the right side of the film back.

    the fun of the holga is the light leaks and getting to know your tempremental lump of plastic.

  3. Wow, these instructions are spot on! Though you forgot the most important and crucial part of step 7–make sure when pulling the film through the tab opening that you break open the pod of developing goo and spread it over the rest of the pack of film. To be most effective, do this with the first exposure.

    Another optional step would be to pull the initial tab through the rollers as well so that you can get a really cool orange rectangle on your print.

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  5. Exactly. I’ve been having the same problem!

  6. Great fun reading this. I have been shooting with an old Polaroid Reporter with lots of the same fun ‘incidents’ and just received my first Holgaroid tonight, so look forward to applying this tutorial to get me started.