New York Photo Review
from the NYPR Archives

Making Caribbean Dance by Susanna Sloat
The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino
Soho Photo Gallery
Central Booking Magazine

More Plastic Cameras
Michelle Bates
20 Years of Toying with Creativity
Ed Barnas
Michelle Bates, “Yard Croc”

Instead of devoting the upstairs space at the Soho Photo Gallery to a Krappy Kollage of images that did not make it into the display downstairs of the 13th International Krappy Kamera Competition winners, Soho Photo Gallery invited Michelle Bates to exhibit her work with plastic cameras over the past two decades. Bates first started working with the Holga in 1991 and has continued to explore its potential in b&w and color, authoring “Plastic Cameras: Toying with Creativity” which is now in its second edition.

All the images on display are square, as befits the Holga’s format, and most carefully composed to fill the frame. The images lean heavily toward nature and unpopulated spaces, most in black and white. Symmetry is a prominent compositional element with many subjects centered and a few (the yard croc and wild horse sculptures) exhibiting a diagonal line.

Of the approximately thirty images on the walls, I found several of interest – an image of tree roots in Boston hanging next to one of sea grass; a watery reflection of the Golden Gate Bridge; a color image of a yellow hydrant centered in a sea of green foliage; a snow-covered “Coney Island” fast food stand in a Colorado forest; and the images of discarded carnival floats in Israel. However, the image I found most interesting was an oddball – a color print of the #5 Subway at the Union Square station.

I do have a personal quibble with the presentation of the images: The wall notes refer to Bates’s use of a cardboard negative carrier, apparently to show the full 6 x 6 cm frame of the Holga negative. Each image in the exhibit is outlined by a roughly barrel-shaped squarish white outline which then bleeds to black to the edge of the sheet. While I will confess that in the past I have filed out my negative carrier to print the full frame, I prefer to see the black edges this creates bleed into white than a distracting white outline separating the image from the black background.

 by unidentified photographer.
Michelle Bates, “Holy Monkey, Pashupatinath, Nepal”

Michelle Bates
20 Years of Toying with Creativity


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The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino
Making Caribbean Dance by Susanna Sloat
Central Booking Magazine
Soho Photo Gallery