Holga Light Leaks

What are Holga light leaks? How do they happen? Do you want to have Holga light leaks in your images or are you trying to avoid them?

First, let’s talk about light leaks. We are working with film here in our plastic Holga camera. Film has an image created on it because light enters and touches the film in an ordered fashion. The cleaner the lens, the steadier the hand, and the more crisp that image is.

On the other hand, if your plastic Holga camera case has holes or warps in it, light comes into it in all sorts of unexpected ways. This causes light flares, strange shadows, and other bizarre things to happen to the image.

That’s why most Holga users tape the Holga up thoroughly before using it.

The tape covers the most common places that light gets into the camera. It rarely is perfect, but it’s better than not doing it.

If light leaks DO happen with your Holga, you’ll get all sorts of strange results. Streaks of yellow. Squares of red, from the back-of-the-camera film-counter window. Spiky shadows.

That’s part of the charm of working with a Holga. You never know what it’s going to do. Or how it’s going to do it.

So the real question is, do you want to wholly avoid light leaks? Get out your tape and tape your camera up. Cover every seam and screw-hole. That’s what needs to be done.

But if you’re like most of us, you take a middle ground. Sure, you tape the edges once you load the film. And then you see what happens. Some light will sneak in from various locations. It adds to the charm of the image. It shows that it was an authentic film image and not a digital one.

I’d love to see your best light leak images. Let me know what you’ve got! Sometimes the most intriguing images of all are created by light leaks!

This image was taken with brand new Kodak Portra 400 Professional 120 Color Negative Film. The film was fine and took other photos on this roll perfectly. This one image was impacted by a light leak. Photo by Lisa Shea.

Taping your Holga against Light Leaks