The History of Holga
The Holga camera was designed by T. M. Lee in 1981. At the time, 120 roll film in black-and-white, was the most widely available film in mainland China. The Holga was intended to provide an inexpensive mass-market camera for working-class Chinese. The rapid adoption of the 35mm film format due to new foreign camera and film imports virtually eliminated the consumer market for 120 film in China. Seeking new markets, the manufacturer sought to distribute the Holga outside mainland China.
Within a few years after the Holga’s introduction to foreign markets, some photographers began using the Holga for its surrealistic, impressionistic scenes for landscape, still life, portrait, and especially, urban photography. Users appreciated the Holga for its lack of precision, light leaks, and unique qualities, which forced the photographer to concentrate on innovation and creative vision in place of increasingly expensive camera technology. In this respect, the Holga became the successor to the Diana and other plastic cameras previously used in such work.
Recently the Holga has experienced a renewed interest due to the increasing popularity of plastic cameras and the creativity and uniqueness of film photography in addition to a continuing counterculture response to the increasing complexity of modern cameras.