Lately I’ve been noticing myself having dreams about cameras. Specifically toy cameras. Toy cameras are essentially cheap(ish) plastic cameras that are meant for casual photography, lately they’ve been seeing a resurgence in their popularity because of the unintentional effect they create on photos, light streaks, double exposures and what have you. They’ve even become extremely mainstream in the hipster community thanks to Urban Outfitters and the like.
But anyway, I’ve been dreaming about these cameras lately which is very odd for me. Since I first heard about Holga cameras when I was in high school I’ve always wanted to dabble with toy cameras but I never really did it, mostly out of forgetfulness. Lately I’ve been reading up on some other photoblogs like I Still Shoot Film (really heavy on cross-processing which gives the photos a cool color effect) and this other blog about this relatively unknown street photographer Vivian Maier who has become quite famous posthumously when someone bought all her negatives shot with her TLR (twin lens reflex) on the streets and started developing and posting them. I think all my late night blog reading has finally caught up to my dreams.
A couple weeks ago I had a dream about the Instax camera. I was in a photo class with my friends that was being taught by my college photo professor Danita and we were doing experimental photography. Because of the crappy budget allotted for photography by the school we were given these ancient versions of the modern day Polaroid/Instax cameras. In my dream they were a cross between a large format camera (think Ansel Adams and a huge cloth over his head) with a giant flash bulb attached, and the glass plate that normally sits in those large format cameras spat out instant photos, but with all the settings of modern toy cameras. It was a beast of a thing but surprisingly light in my dream.
Now I’m normally pretty fussy about what I shoot and the exercise of the day was to “capture life” which I felt pretty intimidated about because lets face it I’m a perfectionist and I wanted THE perfect shot. Time was running out and we were running around campus trying to shoot things so eventually I just gave in and ended up shooting someone jumping on a trampoline who jumped up and did the splits right as I shot it. When I saw what I had shot I was totally blown away at how much I liked the picture I took on impulse and ended up really liking the Instax in my dream. I woke up that morning confused but inspired.
Last night I didn’t have such a detailed dream as before, but I was playing around with a toy TLR camera and was walking the streets shooting everyone and everything I saw and loving it. Half the struggle, for me at least, with doing street photography is that its a little intrusive to people if you come up to them or their business with a camera to your face and take their pictures, its much more relaxing to people you shoot if your camera isn’t up in yours and their face. Enter: the TLR, it allows you to shoot from the waist, giving you the freedom of actually making eye contact and conversing with these street subjects if you dare.
I think my dreams are telling me something. I think they are telling me to be more adventurous in my photo taking and to experiment outside my comfort zone on the things I choose to photograph. I really want to get the Blackbird toy TLR now, like real bad. Who knows, this could be the year I go plastic.