Thankful for Holga

Photography, Thoughts and Opinions

I learned yesterday that Holga is closing their doors. I thought that today I would post my first shots made with my Holga and talk about what it means to me.

It was a beautiful, sunny, December day on 2011. I decided to visit Blue Moon Camera And Machine to buy a Holga. I’d done a lot of research and decided that this was the first film camera I wanted to play with. I’d waffled on this decision for months. For some reason I was afraid to take the plunge. The siren song of film was calling me and I couldn’t deny it, but it took me a long time to follow. The day I bought my Holga was also my first visit to Blue Moon. It would be the first of many visits!

The person who sold me the Holga was the proprietor of Blue Moon himself, Jake Shivery. He helped me choose film and showed me how to load it and gave me advice on how to use it. I loaded it up with some Fuji Pro 400h and went out into the beautiful Portland December day and shot this photo

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I went on to shoot a roll of Black and White film over Christmas. And many more rolls after that.

In fact, little did I know that my purchase of this camera would be the start of something big. The purchase of this camera opened me up to a whole wonderful world. If it wasn’t for this black hunk of plastic I wouldn’t be friends with all of these amazing, kind, and wonderful people all over the world. When I took the step to answer the siren call of film photography it changed my life. I am so glad I listened.

It is Thanksgiving today in America. I have a lot of things to be grateful for. But my little Holga is making me feel such gratitude for the film photography community, and the pinhole photography community. My life is so very much enriched because of all of you. Thank you.

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See the first shots from my Holga in this post.
See the second roll of film through my Holga in this post (I get a little bit philosophical).
See the the rest of my Holga shots here.

You can stand under my umbrella

Life

I don’t know about you but the news from the past week and a half has really gotten to me. The day Robin Williams committed suicide seems to have started a downward spiral of terrible news all over the world. I am  disturbed by all of it.

I am especially saddened by the death of Robin Williams. The sadness has crept up on me slowly. When I see videos of him and stories about him it breaks my heart all over again. I grew up with him and his crazy sense of humor. I see these videos of him being funny and, like others, I am shocked that this person decided to end his own life.

Suicide is a very touchy subject for me. It has affected my life in many ways. When the subject comes up in the news it stirs up thoughts of my own struggles with depression.

In an odd turn of events, I was called upon this week to attend a Mental Health First Aid training workshop.  I was a little hesitant to go because I was personally feeling a little fragile, but I went anyway. It was really good training, though very intense. I went away from it feeling good about helping someone through a mental health crisis should the need arise. It also helped me realize that I am not alone in my struggles, which helps me feel better.

During this past week and a half one of the things that has come up (and was completely validated when I took this class) is the idea that we need to reach out to others who are suffering. It is a hard thing to do. I admit to not doing it as often as I should. I would even go as far as to say it is a very brave thing to do.

When a person is in a deep depression they are incapable of helping themselves. Much of the advice I have heard on social media about this is something like, “If you are depressed, don’t be afraid to reach out to others.” Unfortunately, this is very hard to do. Sometimes it is impossible. When a person is in that place of darkness it can be hard to find the way out. It becomes very important for others to  help them by leading the way out.

A Polish proverb came up over and over again about a month ago in very disparate places. It was very odd and made me wonder if the Universe was trying to tell me something. The proverb is:

Not my circus. Not my monkeys.

when I first saw it I embraced the idea. I tend to easily get sucked into other people’s drama and it affects me in negative ways, at times. However, after giving it some thought I have to really disagree with it.  I realized that we are all in this together. We are rowing the same boat. If you are suffering, I am suffering too. Your suffering is my suffering. So it benefits me to reach out and help.

I am so very grateful to those of you (you know who you are) who have helped me through some of those darker times. Thank you very much.

We are swimming in a sea of goodness

Life

On my walk to work I decided to make a right-turn into the park where vendors were setting up for the Mountain Festival this weekend. I thought it would be a good opportunity to shoot some photos with the Travelling Yashica.

I weaved my way through the hustle and bustle and started to frame a shot when I noticed someone waiting for me. I stopped what I was doing so I could wave her by but we both simultaneously realized we knew each other. It was my dear friend Emilie.

I told her a little bit about the camera and she was really delighted with the story of it and how it was now in my hands on this most auspicious of weekends. She asked if she could take my photo with the camera and I was happy to oblige. We talked a little more and then she shared a wonderful revelation she had yesterday.

She has been actively working on being complaint free for 21 days. The other night at meditation group someone mentioned that we should wear a bracelet and when we have a positive social interaction we should move the bracelet over. So she decided to try it the next day. The experiment worked too well. She found herself continually moving the bracelet over to the other wrist. It was like once she had one positive moment it snowballed and then the whole thing became unfeasible.

It made her realize that we are swimming in a sea of goodness all the time but, unfortunately, we only focus on the few bad things. Why is this? There is all of this good all around us but the few tiny bad things stand out like a spotlight.

I am so glad she took the time to share this insight with me. I have been feeling a little down and negative the past few days and our short conversation made me think about all of the things in my life that I am grateful for.

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I want to thank you.

Life

As you can see, I’ve had a very emotional week. I rode this really awful wave of sadness, despair, and depression on Tuesday without really understanding what it was all about. This is a hard time of year for me for reasons you all know by now if you read this blog. In my head I know that and I was expecting it. But, wow. I was really emotional on Tuesday. It felt out of control and scary. When I posted that Neko Case song a few Twitter friends cheered me and made me laugh by posting happier songs. It really, really helped to move me back in a more positive direction in my head. Then last night as I was talking about my experience another friend reminded me that what I was going through didn’t sound like depression but sadness. She reminded me that we are all human and, because of this, feel a range of emotions: Sadness being one of them. And since it is “that time of year” it is appropriate to feel sad. I felt like the weight of the world lifted from my shoulders when she said this. It’s OK, and sometimes even appropriate, to feel sad. What a concept. Why do I beat myself up for feeling this emotion?

On Tuesday grief rose up in me and made itself known and I had to feel it – I had no choice. It bubbles up and you have to go through it. And I did. I cried cathartically several times Tuesday and I am glad I did. I felt better yesterday and I feel better today.

I just realized why Tuesday was so weirdly emotional. Yesterday was the  day that Doug died 4 years ago, but the day before I was up with him at his bedside basically watching him die for hours and hours. It was the most painful thing I have ever experienced in my life. But I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world. I loved him and he needed me in those moments and I was there for him. There is just no question that I would be there for him. The pain doesn’t even matter.

I wonder, though, if pain can echo through time? I kind of feel like that is what happened on Tuesday.

Today I am thankful for my friends. I am thankful for you. Thank you for helping me through this darkness with your good thoughts and your jokes and your kind words. Thank you Thank you.