Low-fi Photography: The Return of an Obsession

Camera Collection: Kodak Instamatic CameraLow-fi photography may seem like a step backward when you look at today's photographic world. Most people are striving for more "professional looking" photos, what with the rise of high tech point-and-shoot cameras and accessible DSLRs, as well as the myriad of accessories and post-processing tools available.

Lately, though, there has been a rise in interest with low-fi photography. Primarily, in analog/film cameras that are considered to be "toy cameras" such as the Holgas, the Dianas, the Lomos, the Blackbird Flys, the Pinholes, etc. Instant cameras like Polaroid and Fuji's Instax series may also be considered to be classified as low-fi photography.

I've always been a fan of such kind of photography even before the "lomographic culture" came along. Yes, even before "lomo" became a "cool" term to some folks, I've been fooling around with film photography using old equipment that belonged to my dad when I was a kid.

However, analog photography took a backseat when my husband and I finally took the plunge and bought our first digital camera some 8 to 9 years ago or so. Before then, it was all film for us.

Going in to digital, I ended up forgetting analog. It was just so much easier not to worry about processing all the photos that we took --- or worrying about buying films and such at the time. Cheaper too, considering we only end up printing less than half of the photos that we actually take. Sometimes, we don't even print some of the pictures at all.

But, I began to miss the whole lot a couple of years ago. Film, I mean.

Camera Collection: Polaroid PI miss the instant gratification you get from using Polaroids. And I miss the quirkiness of taking pictures that you don't get to review beforehand via an LCD screen.

I even started to long for the old photographs that my parents used to take when we were kids. You know... those old square format ones (see bottom of post)?

So, I began thinking of them again. Putting old and toy cameras in my "wish" lists... Adding some to My eBay Watch List.

But, I've resisted. And resisted. And resisted some more.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, by some strange twist of fate... I ended up working on a Science activity at grad school that looked in to how cameras work. There was a model box camera, amongst other old cameras that belonged to our tutor. It was such a blast playing with them.

Seeing all those old cams also reminded me of this old Kodak Instamatic camera (pictured top right) that I sort of inherited when my dad passed away just over a year ago. I don't think it works anymore as it takes a kind of film that's no longer in production. I just wanted to keep it as a memory of those old photographic stuff that I enjoyed. And, to remember my dad too.

Then, guess what? Just a few days ago, I found this old Polaroid P camera (pictured here, mid-left) that I've been looking for over the last 2+ years. It was in a box that was ready to be thrown out after my hubby did a major clear out of our garage. Thankfully, I managed to save the camera before it got taken away. (Unfortunately, my old stash of films didn't survive!)

It was then that my growing lust for low-fi photography just exploded. Probably because I've been keeping it at bay for a few years now... and I was just waiting for "the right time" to let it loose.

So, I hunted for a 600 film on eBay for the Polaroid, but was shocked to realise that they cost at least AU $32-35 per 10-film pack. Yowsers. Of course, this has something to do with the fact that Polaroid decided to cease production some time back. But, it made me reconsider the purchase for a bit.

Then, I learned that The Impossible Project may have actually made a breakthrough with Polaroid just this month. So, there might still be some hope for us! But then, I knew that I can't wait much longer to get back in to lo-fi / instant photography (besides, there is this thing called instant gratification that I've already delayed long enough! ;-)).

That's why I've taken the plunge and ordered an Instax Mini 55 and a Diana Mini off eBay. I'm now eagerly awaiting for their arrival. I'll let you know how it goes!

Me, with my Dad
Me, with My Dad (age 1, methinks!)
One of those old square format pics in the 70s that I miss.

About the Author Shai Coggins

Shai has been managing and blogging here at ShaiCoggins.com for 17 years. Here, she writes about creativity, productivity, and how to recharge for a better, happier lifestyle. She is the author of Today: Life Journal, Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes, and a little known children's book. A serial entrepreneur, Shai also currently runs Vervely.com, a boutique digital media agency offering online content, community, and conversion marketing services. Her blogging experience and digital work have been featured in various media, including being listed in Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list. Originally from Manila, Shai lived in Singapore and the USA before moving to Australia with her British husband. They have two children, a pet bunny, and a rambunctious rescue Labrador.

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