A Holga-Eyed View Of The World; Optics? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Optics! Page 2

I first ran into Ted Orland when I read his book Art & Fear, a truly wonderful book about art and the way art is made and sometimes doesn’t get made. Read it, especially after a visit to his plain vanilla website that bursts with a love for photography. Start by looking at his “Black & White and Classic Photographs” that includes a whimsical photograph titled “One-and-a-Half Domes, Yosemite” that must be experienced, not described. It says a lot about the kind of guy Orland is and how you can sometimes take all this photography stuff too seriously. His sense of humor can also be seen in “Yuppies Marching into the Sea” in the “Handcolored Photographs” collection, but the lovely and plaintive “Tree, Merced River, Winter, #2” in the same collection serves as a musical counterpoint that is more Mahler than Bach.

© 2009, Ted Orland, All Rights Reserved

His Holga photographs burst with color and life and celebrate life using the medium as a message. His wit is seen in “Free-Range T-Rex” and “Little House on the Freeway,” proving that art is where you find it and showing how the Holga is a useful tool for social commentary as well as a way of expressing the fun of photography that is often lost in a rush to the sea of artfulness. I love the Holga-based panoramas Orland creates. Here multiple images merge without a formal photographic rectangle to create worlds you can enter and move around in while marveling at the detail and especially color that explodes within the formless edges. Before you leave head over to “Books and Posters” to purchase signed copies of his books and affordably-priced prints.

This month’s Reader’s Homepage belongs to Michelle Bates, the fairy godmother of the Holga who wrote the definitive book on the subject, Plastic Cameras: Toying with Creativity. If you don’t already have a copy of this marvelous book, the first thing you do when arriving at the site should be to click on its link and buy a copy. Clicking on the large Holga photograph on the splash page takes you to a gallery that contains collections of both Holga and “Other Series” images made with “real” cameras. The “Quirky Holga” collection is filled with the kind of offbeat images that almost define the way most people see the Holga—as a fun house camera—but her monochrome images (don’t miss “Fried Doughboys”) amp up the fun so much so it will make you smile and run out and buy a Holga today.

© 2009, Michelle Bates, All Rights Reserved

The “Graphics” collection shows the other side of Holga, the fine art side, with images that are subtle (“Monument, Thailand”) and complex (“Javitz Center roof”) and demonstrate that it’s not the tool but the artist who makes the image. In “Urban Oases” Bates takes that concept a bit further with mellifluous photographs that blend nature and nurture to create images that are abstract and realistic at the same time. I loved all the photographs in “Nature Holga,” especially “Beach Grass, NJ” that has a definite Solaris (Russian version) feel to it while others have the wistful feel of old glass-plate photographs. The funky and clever site design is by skyhand design (www.skyhand.com).