Blurry, out of focus, streaked with light and distorted. While these are adjectives you might not associate with quality photography, these are the quintessential characteristics of photography produced by toy cameras. As the technological prowess of digital SLRs and cameras intended for the prosumer advances towards image crispness, toy cameras such as the Holga, Diana, LOMO LC-A, and the range offered by Lomography offer an alternative to this never-ending quest for increased megapixels.
Typically very simply constructed, made of plastic and often made by hand, these cameras have seen waves in popularity, and have now gone beyond a gimmicky novelty status to an established genre of photography – especially as renowned photographers continue to make prize-winning, iconic images with them.
I spoke with some of the most iconic toy camera photographers, in particular those who had worked in Tokyo, about the art and love of toy cameras.
“The reason I went with the pinhole is partly because commercial work is mostly digital, so to get away from that aspect, and with digital now, and iPhone and smart phones, we can shoot anything any time and stick a filter on it. You are playing around. You don’t start out with an actual vision, you just snap away. Whereas, when you start using something like a pinhole, with film, you start to think about what you are doing. You have made a conscious decision at the start.”