Call for Entries: The Somerville Toy Camera Fest

The Somerville Toy Camera Fest: An International Juried Competition

July 24, 2013


“I love working with toy cameras. There are the usual reasons that most photographers talk about: the lack of technical controls enables me the freedom to focus on the composition and emotional content of my image. But, this camera has also helped me find beauty in imperfection. I tend to be a perfectionist with my work and obsess over the smallest details in my images. Working with such an imprecise and flawed camera as a Holga is both frightening and liberating. I found this experience akin to being on a roller coaster, which is why I used a Holga to photograph my Thrills & Chills project, which explores my fear of amusement park rides (and my underlying fear of not being in control).

When I jury festival entries, I will be looking for images for which it really makes sense to use toy cameras — not every subject matter is best explored through toy cameras. For example, I chose to not use a Holga for my Elderly Animals project because I wanted the images to be unflinching in their detail. My early images for that project were taken with a Holga, and they did not have the same emotional impact as the ones I have taken with my Hasselblad.

Although this is a toy camera show, I will still be looking for images that demonstrate a high-level of technical and artistic prowess. I am looking for work that does not use the visual artifacts of toy cameras (e.g., vignettes) as creative crutches. As I review an image I will ask myself whether there is substance to this image beyond the vignette and blur. I ask myself this very question when I edit my own toy camera work and many of my images end up on the cutting room floor!

Above all, I want to see images that evoke a strong emotion — joy, fear, sadness, anger, revulsion — or challenge the way I think. Toy camera imagery is about defying photographic conventions. In fact, I think of it as the visual equivalent of punk music. So, let’s make some noise.”

For the Somerville Toy Camera Fest (STCF), “toy camera” is identified as any low-end, low-tech, limited-control camera, including Holga, Diana and other Lomo products, as well as Brownies and Anscos and any pinhole cameras. Images made from Polaroid film backs attached to Holga are welcome; straight Polaroid camera pictures are not. Cell phone images are welcome.

Expect the unexpected. The Nave Gallery and Washington Street Art Center have in the past separately held toy camera photography shows. They are now joining together to create an international festival in Somerville, MA celebrating the quirky and creative results that happen when the photographer is forced to loosen his/her controls.

There will be three separate exhibitions as part of the Somerville Toy Camera Fest. The juror will decide final placement of work that is accepted.

The Washington Street Arts Center
Exhibit dates: August 10-31, 2013
Opening reception: Reception: Saturday, August 10, 7-10 pm

The Nave Gallery
Exhibit dates: September 7-28, 2013
Opening reception: Friday, September 6, 6-9 pm

The Nave Annex
Exhibit dates: September 11-29, 2013
Opening reception: Wednesday, September 11, 6-9 pm

People’s Choice Award (for each location): 1 Holga 144-120 Medium Format 120N Camera with Built-in Lens
3 Honorable mention juror awards (for each location)

Susan Berstler, Matt Corcoran, Tori Costa, Elizabeth Ellenwood, Lee Kilpatrick, Greer Muldowney, Nick Schietromo, James Zall

Please send up to 5 artwork submissions as .jpg files to toycamerafestival[at]gmail[dot]com as a zipped attachment.

Each .jpg should be 1200 pixels in the long dimension and named as “#_NAME.jpg” where # is the submission number and NAME is your last name. Resolution should be 300 dpi. File should be zipped.

Please include an image list with your submission email, indicating submission number, title, size, process, and year; as well as a brief artist bio and statement.

Please indicate how you heard about this call.

There is a $20 submission fee for up to 5 images, payable through Paypal or with check. Paypal is available here. Please include “Toy Camera” in the memo. Checks should be sent to: Nave Gallery Annex, 53 Chester St, Somerville, MA 02144. You do not need to be a Somerville resident to apply.

Accepted pieces should be delivered to the respective gallery ready to install. Artist is responsible for cost of shipping to and from gallery.