One definition of the word regression states: "A relapse to a less perfect or developed state." We see a lot of regression going on around us these days, from political, social, and religious views, to nostalgia for simpler times, right on to photography and the "older" look and feel of images we'd like to capture.
Photographic Regression Therapy, or PRT, is practiced by many photographers. There isn't, of course, a real and documented type of therapy called PRT -- leastwise, not one that I know of -- I just made that up. But I think it's a good way to describe something more than a few photographers are going through lately, myself included. For whatever reasons, many of us are relapsing to a less perfect or developed technological state, or the appearance of one, as it applies to photography.
Interestingly, some of this relapsing uses very developed technologies to achieve a regressive looking image. An iPhone equipped with Instagram is one example: iPhonography with Instagram uses a very modern and high-tech device to sometimes produce photo images that appear as if they were captured with less developed technologies. You know, like vintage, analog, low-fi, film cameras.
Personally, I haven't embraced the iPhone/Instagram craze. Shooting images with my iPhone simply doesn't appeal to me in big ways. That could change but, for now, that's how it is with me. Still, I practice PRT in other ways as many of you may also be doing.
Lately, quite a few photographers have become interested in shooting with Polaroid cameras. This trend is, in no small way, a result of the popularity of the the Impossible Project. It's also a good way to engage in PRT.
Lomography is another form of PRT. Originally, lomography was about using inexpensive vintage cameras, generally of Russian design and manufacture. Today, the term lomography has been extended to include cheap plastic cameras like the Holga and Diana to achieve it's distinctive low-fi results. If you regularly read this blog, you know I recently purchased a plastic Holga lens to mount on my Canon 5D. Using a Canon 5D certainly doesn't represent true PRT, it's quite a high-tech camera body after all, but slapping a Holga lens on it qualifies.
Yesterday, my PRT resulted in another acquisition: A late 60s/early 70s rangefinder camera.
I was perusing Craigslist when I spotted someone selling a couple of older film cameras. One of them was a Yashica Electro 35 GT. I called the seller, went to his house to look at his cameras, and purchased the Yashica rangefinder for $40. It included the camera with it's fixed 45mm lens, wide-angle and telephoto optical adapters, and an accessory-shoe-mounted viewfinder. Cosmetically, the camera is pristine. It looks as if it was barely used. I have no idea if it works because it had no battery in it. Originally, this camera used mercury batteries which have been illegal for some time now. I returned home, went on eBay, and ordered a battery adapter which permits using a more common battery that is still available.
What am I going to do with this camera? Other than snap some pictures with it, I have no idea. I didn't buy it with anything more specific in mind. It's simply a way to engage in a bit more PRT. Assuming the camera functions properly, I'll enjoy playing with it in a nostalgic sort of way. And that's why, I think, many other photographers engage in Photographic Regression Therapy, whether they're using an iPhone, a Polaroid camera, a lomo camera, or a vintage film camera: It's just plain fun and the results can be very rewarding in a creatively aesthetic sort of way.
The pretty girl at the top is another whose name I can't recall. (Click to enlarge.) I shot her in front of the plain, stuccoed, wall of a garage at a location house where my client was shooting a video production in an adjacent area of the property. The garage area was shaded so I used a 5' Photoflex Octodome for my main light, camera-right, plus a kicker off to the side, modified with a small umbrella, to mimic sunlight coming in from camera-left.