It all began with film. Not me shooting it necessarily, but me seeing it developed.
I’m sure I’ve spoken about my childhood spent standing on a closed toilet seat watching my grandfather develop and print his own film in his makeshift darkroom. Makeshift in the sense that it was a bathroom with one window that he would black out AND only develop at night in.
It was magic. At least it was too me.
This was a time before you snapped the shutter and immediately looked on the back to see how it turned out. This was an era where you were limited on how many shots you would take, so trying to get the perfect exposure of your sandwich at lunch was out of the question.
This was far from an Instagram world.
You had 24 to 36 shots on a roll and you had to make them count. I probably took 36 shots of my daughter in her Cat in the Hat costume before school earlier this week.
There is a finality to film. It’s special. We can’t dial in the perfect exposure by “chomping”, we’ve got to nail it.
The majority of my film experience was with disposable cameras, a “disk” camera that my father let me use on trips, and a very cool polaroid that my mother got me for my birthday. Those days I definitely thought more about the moments than the art of the photograph.
Even as I moved into photography as a profession, I never really thought about film. It actually seemed like a clunky and inadequate tool that I didn’t have time for. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely had respect for anyone that could shoot it.
Truthfully I was slightly scared of it.
Over the past few years as I’ve become more and more engulfed in learning my craft. I’ve always strived to be the best at what I do. However, I don’t want to have boundaries on what I can do.
I’m a photographer. Period.
I shoot natural light and off camera flash. I shoot on a digital slr camera and recently starting working on small Fuji mirrorless kits. I want to move on to medium and large format cameras one day, but for now I want to learn to shoot film.
Well, the obvious heartfelt yearning to use the same techniques as my grandfather did is reason enough. Out of respect to him, Ansel, Avedon, and everyone else who built photography into what it is…I feel like I owe them that.
I also think people have forgotten the beauty in film. There is a dynamic range that is unparalleled, tonality, and so much more beauty in that “analogue” feel.
We’ve all become so used to mp3′s, satellite radio, and (even worse) YouTube to listen to our music. All those compressed 1′s and 0′s can’t come close to the life of the music found on vinyl records and even cassette tapes. It’s the same with film. There’s life in there that sometimes gets missed in digital.
With all that said, this is the beginning of my new side project: Film on Life, Life on Film.
While I feel I’m a fairly accomplished photographer, I’m a toddler taking his first steps in a world that expects me to take off sprinting in the Olympics. I intend to document my successes and failures as I learn this process. I pray there are successes and I have no doubt there will be failures.
My goals? Simple.
I not only want to consistently capture quality photographs utilizing various films and film cameras, I intend to develop my own film. Early on in particular I will be using film labs and for the foreseeable future intend to have all my color film developed in a professional lab. I do expect to be developing a large portion of my black and white work on my own by summer.
I anticipate shooting a large portion of my film work in black and white. A lot of times I feel like I’m a black and white shooter at heart. I dream of that day a bride says “I want a 100% black and white wedding.”
I hope to do several “film only” portrait sessions this year and make it a sellable package for next year. My hope is to snap a few film shots at my all my weddings this year as well. Maybe next year I can second or third for somebody and shoot 100% film. I’m not sure I’ll ever feel comfortable enough to primary shoot a wedding with nothing but film…but never say never.
I have already purchased 2 film cameras and I’ll get into those in later blogs. What is amazing to me is the availability of highly rated (older) film cameras. I picked up a Canon EOS 620 for $25 plus shipping AND it works will all my Canon lenses. I also grabbed a Canon A-1 with a 50mm 1.4 for under $100 shipped.
I realize that a lot of people may not be super interested in this, but I know some that are. I also hope this blog series not only keeps me accountable and forces me to stick with it, but also might act as a stepping stone for some of my friends in photography to get out of there comfort zones.
from TPHpodNET - March 09, 2014 at 11:11AM