The cracked concrete and peeling paint of Bisbee’s exteriors is eye candy for a photographer with a Holga camera. This old copper-mining town is roughly aged, yet an influx of artists has dusted off the grit just enough to uncover the place’s quirk and class. Bisbee is a blend of the antiquated, new age and plain ol’ old. It’s the perfect subject for a camera that prides itself on recreating photographs from the past, with square negatives, faded colors and random imperfections.

Created in the early 1980s as a medium-format toy camera, the Holga has attracted a cult following. It’s a lightweight, plastic, film camera that requires little technical skill. All you need is a daydreamer’s curiosity and some sunshine. All of this kid-like fun can be had for 30 bucks, plus the cost of film. It brings us photographers back to the days before DPI, RAW and JPEG. It’s just shooting because you love taking pictures.

The best part of shooting with a Holga is not knowing exactly what you’ll get. You see, because of its fantastic plastic construction, the Holga leaks light. This will do one of two things to your photo: make it groovy or flat-out destroy it. In a photography world full of sure things and magical tricks—thanks to giant LCD screens, autofocus and Photoshop—the whimsical Holga makes me feel like a real rebel.

—Jill

8 Responses to “Bisbee, AZ: Quirky enough for film”

  1. Larry Elkins says:

    Great photos! I’m a Bisbee based photographer and a Bisbee native. I especially like your images of Erie Street. The Holga appears to allow for a unique style to emerge. Having shot thousands of images of Bisbee, I know unique when I see it. My website elkinsphotos.com features numerous photos of Bisbee if any of your readers wish to explore. Anyway, I love your work. Larry Elkins – Elkinsphotos Fine Art
    Photography – Bisbee, AZ

  2. Celine says:

    Gorgeous results girl :) What film did you use?

    • Jill says:

      Thanks for the compliments. I love shooting with the Holga, but it sure gets expensive. Sometimes I wonder whether it’s worth it.

      The film I’m using is Kodak Professional Portra 400VC Film. It is a fine grain color negative film with normal contrast and vivid color reproduction. So it says. Runs about $5 a roll.

  3. Tim Riley says:

    Great photos! My wife and I love Bisbee, one of the best little towns in America.

    • Jill says:

      I agree. Bisbee has a little bit of everything—history, arts, shopping, food. It also has one of the best dive bars we’ve visited—St. Elmo’s.

  4. First, the pictures rock. Second, Bisbee is home to Small Dog on the Go. She is a
    short-form filmmaker and travel journalist who also happens to take her dog with her on her trips. Check out her blog – if I were in Bisbee, I would love to meet her.

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