For Valery Rizzo, home is where the Holga is
Brooklyn-born Valery Rizzo has been shooting professionally for 11 years, selling much of her work through stock agencies. A lot of the work she shares on Flickr, though, is devoted to an evolving book project close to her heart: a photographic portrait of the New York City borough she still calls home, shot with plastic cameras.
Rizzo finds her lightweight, medium-format Holga and Woca cameras perfect for the project’s combination of street photography and portraiture. “I probably have 10 cameras, but I rely on four or five that I’ve customized,” she says. “Three of these I use all the time, one of them I use in low-light situations on a bulb setting, and another I customized for macro shots.”
The cheap cameras’ simple lenses produce relatively soft images with shallow focus and vignetted corners — pictures that mirror the unique, abiding spirit of Brooklyn, says Rizzo. “People are not intimidated by the cameras, and I can take them anywhere — in bad weather, to bad neighborhoods, you name it. I also love the Holga because it’s a rule breaker.”
The rule Rizzo does not break is that of classic street photography: the direct capture of a decisive moment on film. “I don’t alter my images digitally in any way,” she says. “My final prints are made from the color negatives in a darkroom and retouched by hand.” She scans the negatives of photos she wants to upload to Flickr.
While she acknowledges the many advantages of digital capture, Rizzo believes it can’t replicate some of the essential qualities of film. “A digital image is always trying to look as if it were printed traditionally,” she says. “I think most people can feel the difference between an unaltered real moment caught on film in-camera and a digitally created photograph.”
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Cameras: Holga, Woca
Flickr member since: 2007
Flickr page: flickr.com/photos/valeryrizzo
Images from Flickr’s American Photo Creative Showcase, clockwise from left: A rare stop-action pinhole photograph by Brian Krummel, with the low-angle point of view often seen in the technique; a self-portrait from Lisa Kimberly’s photo-a-day visual diary, with Photoshopped commentary; a boardwalk band at Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach by Valery Rizzo, shot with a plastic camera as part of a hometown portrait.
Be sure to join our American Photo Creative Showcase on Flickr. As a Showcase member, you can post your best images and give advice and encouragement to our other avid users. And since the magazine showcases a different Flickr photographer in every issue, you just may see your contributions end up on the pages of American Photo!
Plus, we want you to give us a piece of your mind, so don't forget to come back often to fuel our discussion section!
*The statements and images posted on PopPhoto.com are the views and responsibility of those who posted them and do not necessarily represent the views of FUJIFILM.