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From Holgas to Instagram: an homage to lo-fi photography

Camera makers are all trying to out-spec themselves in an effort to maintain market share: more megapixels, higher ISOs, better dynamic range, more FPS, video etc. But when you look at which cameras people most often use, why people reach for those cameras more often than not, and how people consume the images they produce, one has to wonder if the traditional camera makers of the world are destined to repeat Kodak's mistakes.

Looking at Flickr's camera stats, the most popular camera on their social network belongs to a smartphones. The appeal of smartphones is obvious: it's a single device that's connected and integrated into your online persona. They also allow you to do simple modifications/alterations to your pictures in order to give them more style before you upload them. In essence, smartphones are the most convenient and convergent devices out there and with the advent of Google wallet (and NFC etc), they will become even more so. Do you know of a single traditional camera that does all this?

So how do people consume all these photos? Nowadays, pictures are destined for social networking sites, such as: 500px, Flickr and Facebook (which is becoming more and more a photo sharing service and repository) to name a few. Printing pictures is becoming less common since people are content in showing their pictures on their 4" smartphone screen, on their computer, tablet or on their TV. Remember, smartphones are all connected so to go from taking a picture to uploading/sharing it and commenting on it is effortless. Moreover, you have a photo album in your pocket 24/7, therefore no need to carry a heavy leather bound album anymore (though I do miss them!)

That said, in the midst of all this technology measurebating and convergence, Instagram has been doing something really interesting since 2010: digitizing nostalgia. Using Instagram, users can add filters on their pictures to make them look old, more dramatic, lo-fi etc. In other words, Instagram can process a picture taken with a top of the line smartphone and make it look like it was taken with a Holga. Kind of ironic no?

After ditching Blackberry and picking up an Android phone, I started using Instagram and I can honestly say that I'm really enjoying the entire experience. Instagram is intuitive, entertaining and engaging and because of that, I'm actually using my camera phone a lot more now. I suppose that's why Facebook paid a billion dollars for the app! If anything can make a dull picture 1,000 times more compelling, it's Instagram (or any other similar app) and I'm clearly not the only one who thinks this if the following headline is any indication: "Instagram Beats Twitter in Daily Mobile Users for the First Time".

In honor of Instagram and the Holga look it can create digitally, I scanned some old pictures which were taken with my trusty Holga 120N (my scanner isn't that great so I had to post process them a bit in Snapseed). Enjoy original lo-fi experience!