Plastic Toy Camera Series
The photographs in this series were all made with plastic toy film cameras called the Debonair, the Diana and the Holga. I began working with these cameras in 1997, inspired by their characteristic dreamlike effects.
The simplicity of the camera is one of its many attributes. Standard settings of "cloudy day" or "sunny day" is nearly all of the thinking that's required for operation. Focusing is achieved by aligning the appropriate icon of images imprinted around the lens barrel which corresponds to the estimated distance.
The beauty and enjoyment of these cameras is the freedom to immediately respond to the moment without worry of technical mastery. There's an excitement in discovering captured images with their unexpected light leaks, vignetting, blurs and distortions. The fun for me has always been in creating images that evoke a simpler time yet are images captured in a more complicated world.
When digital cameras became affordable a decade ago I, like many, purged most of my film cameras. I kept my plastic toy cameras primarily out of sentimentality. The Debonair, out of all of them, holds a special memory: on a trip to the Texas Hill Country, my wife (then girlfriend) heroically swam to its rescue after our canoe had capsized in the Guadalupe River. We've been bonded from that day forward (my wife and I, that is :-).
It was only out of compiling these images for this web site that I was inspired to shoot the plastic toy camera once again after an eleven year hiatus. A trip to San Antonio was all it took.
Armed with twelve year-old out of date film and my Holga camera, the experience was like reuniting with an old friend that I hadn't seen for years. I was elated that I was shooting film again, albeit a little nervous and wondering what I was trying to prove to myself. Regardless, the one thing that did happen was fun. Gone was the obsession of instantly reviewing images and trying to perfect every shot with my digital camera. Instead there was a freedom: a freedom to breathe, a freedom to respond, a freedom to just let go.
So, look for a few of the new shots mixed in here with the more than decade-old other ones. My intent to present a past series may now very well be an ongoing series that had a long intermission.
Paul Vincent Kuntz September 2015
Scroll and click to view larger...