I'm Sarah: friend of God, photographer of marriage & family, and hopeless romantic. On this journal, I share my recent work, education for photographers, and personal journey with Jesus, art, heritage, and learning to capturing the nuance of Love and life in still photographs.

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How to Take Nostalgic Photos with the Holga 120n

Spoiler: I recently discovered that the Holga 120n is my friend when it comes to capturing nostalgic photos, and now I’m in love.

The world seems to be very taken with nostalgic, grainy, and cinematic photographs lately, and rightly so. So you can imagine my pleasant surprise when I opened my email inbox to see my film scans from California that checked every nostalgic, grainy, warm, and cinematic film photo box known to man.

The best part? Every single one of these photographs was taken on a $40, plastic, flimsy “toy” camera that I bought on a whim months before: the Holga 120n.

The Appeal

I tend to be wary of picking up “trendy” cameras and styles when it comes to film photography. I don’t want to spend money developing and scanning half-baked images, and so I have always stuck to clean, classic images that are as grain-free as possible using bulky medium format cameras like my Pentax 645n. But seeing how the Holga 120n is so light, fun, and simple to shoot, not to mention very difficult to mess up, I might just have a new favorite everyday carry camera.

Take a look:

Tips for Nostalgic Film Photos

Gritty film photos are not everyone’s cup of tea in a digital, tack-sharp world. I get it. But a bigger part of me can’t help but smile looking at these photos. I can imagine my friends showing them to their kids and grandkids some day, telling them about that trip they took in their 20s to the California coast. Talk about nostalgic photos, and all on that little Holga 120n!

My Tips for Taking Candid, Memory-filled Photos:

  • Don’t think, just shoot.
  • Don’t direct too much, and don’t be afraid to snap on instinct.
  • Take the messy photos. Go out on those photographic limbs. Your phones will take the boring, reliable photos, so let yourself have fun with this light-as-a-feather toy camera!

The Holga is also a wonderful point and shoot camera for double exposures. Since you advance the film manually, you can take as many shots as you want before moving to the next film exposure. (See above)

Many of these photographs were taken by my friends who had never held the Holga 120n before. This camera is a one-click wonder. It freed me up to give my attention to my digital work from this trip, while letting my friends handle the fun film memories.

The Holga can be ordered online for approximately $40 at the moment, and I can’t recommend it enough. It can be thrown in a tote bag or a large jacket pocket and is inconspicuous, as well as a fantastic everyday carry camera. I’ll definitely be using it for wedding and client work in the future, and I defeinitely recommend it for travel and daily use.

Have fun with the Holga 120n! And tag me on Instagram @sarahleying if you post any of your captures with it!

Blessings, Sarah