A camera was an instrument where I would load a roll of film. I loved watching the film wind advance. I was just learning about lighting 40 years ago. As I’d compose I’d set the shutter speed and f-stop, focus and I’d click my shutter at the exact moment my intuition said to. There was no firing off of 10 digital images to have to sort through later. I made one photo. I savored the slowing down of life’s gentle moments. I loved the sound of my finger pressing on the shutter button. I loved the excitement of waiting to get the film developed, or a proof sheet if I was shooting black and white. Lot of loves in this paragraph. That’s because I love photography.
Now, a camera is no longer a camera. Cameras capture video, sound, even GPS coordinates along with more metadata that you could ever possibly need or care about. As we’ve seen the changes in photography take us from analog to digital, this physical medium has changed. I turned digital in 2004 only because I was working on a movie and that demanded digital images. I feel that I’m almost a victim of the digital age which is probably why my obsession with buying photography books has doubled recently. I know books are going to be relics someday. I have returned to film because I want something tangible not an image stored in The Cloud.
I am saddened that the film industry is in its final throes and can only hope that Kodak will continue to produce my favorite film of all time; Tri-X. I love the speed, latitude and sharpness and don’t want to be alive to find out Kodak will no longer produce this film.
I’ve heard that Kodak was blowing up their own buildings years ago. Since 2003, Eastman Kodak has closed 130 plants and 130 laboratories. I know we’re not supposed to be attached to anything and that change is inevitable.
I’ve been thinking about how as a photographer I would make my pictures and have them printed on paper or film and now it’s all about data stored in The Cloud. As part of my reflection, I have returned to shooting film. If photography is about capturing time and space, how will this change in viewing photography on a whole? I used to call myself a photographer. Now I’m a “multi media artist.” I have learned how to create movies with voice over, music, images in Final Cut Pro X. I could never quite wrap my arms around Final Cut Pro 7. I’ve learned various software like Blurb and A & I, to self publish my own photography books. With my two original passions being books and photography, this is perhaps the greatest part of the technological advances we’ve made. Creating my own photography books has kept me up endless nights.
On a recent trip to Las Vegas to visit my father, I had my trusty, old film camera with me. I decided to go with Ilford Delta 3200 because I wanted the intentional grain and the exposure latitude is tremendous. It’s actual ASA rating is 1000 but I pushed to 3200 intentionally. I smile when people talk about image noise, the digital equivalent of film grain for analogue cameras. I love the old-fashioned, grainy look of early film. Bring on the noise.
I fell in love with this little puppies face as I stopped at a favorite spot on that long, desert road Highway 15 so I stuck my hand in the puppies mouth. The owner noticing my camera, quickly figured out I was a photographer or maybe it was my Michael Jackson tshirt, and asked me to pay him for making this photo.
The clouds didn’t have the nerve to ask though. I always loved backlight but there is something magical about shooting right into the sun.
In October 1840, Hippolyte Bayard made a portrait of himself in his famous “Self Portrait as a Drowned Man”. This is a landmark image not only because he’s pointing the camera at himself but also because it’s an imaginary situation. It’s no mystery why photographers like Pedro Meyer, Felix Nadar, Francesca Woodman, Diane Arbus, Vivian Maier, all loved self portraiture. I truly believe when I turn the camera on myself, there are no masks, nothing to hold back.
So wilt thou.”
18th Century stone column