The Plastic Show
An exhibition of photographs captured entirely with plastic cameras.
Featuring photographers: Karen Cornelius, Jessica Eckermann, Andrea Francolini, Cynthia Gemus, Sara Huffen, Mike Lim and Mark Zed.
There's an anticipation mixed with disappointment in antique markets and camera fairs. Laid out on tables and tables are mediocre zoom lenses, books on photo technique from the 80s, outdated boxes of photo paper. Sometimes there is a nice old Leica for sale but it's inevitably too expensive. And then, sometimes, there's a cheap camera sitting quietly among all the other things. It doesn't need batteries, it's light (being made of plastic or bakelite) and it might be called a Holga, a Diana, or a Clack. This breed of camera takes film, it's easy to use; just load it up and shoot. You can control the focus a little, the exposure a little, neither very much, and you usually have to remember to wind the film on.
The appeal here is exactly that vagueness about the process and the uncertainty about the outcome. For photographers used to tight precision and control over their images, the approximateness of the picture-making can be a freeing thing. It's also fun, shooting with a camera that you need to close with a rubber band or fix the light leaks in with gaffer tape, or packing a 35mm film into a medium-format camera with tissue paper. This kind of photography has enough appeal for suppliers to manufacture new plastic gear: over half the cameras in this show have been bought new. The accidental quality of the process can result in pictures that aren't exposed perfectly but show a nice depth in the tone; or maybe the multiple exposures overlap in unexpected and serendipitous ways. This is what makes plastic camera images interesting for the viewer as well as the photographer (because, if you're just looking at the result and not playing with the camera, why does how you got it matter?). The accidental results give us a little more than we ask for. All we have to do is let them happen, accept them, and offer them to you.