Tuesday, February 1, 2011

First Love

This morning I sat and had my coffee and read through my google reader. Seriously, I follow some amazing bloggers. I never realized there were so many clever people out there. Anyway, I came across a guest photographer who shoots in black and white quite a bit. Her images had the breath, you know the one that I'm talking about. The one only film pulls out.

It continued this thought that has been haunting me. I've been thinking about how I started out in this profession. All film all setting up for that one portrait. Since then, I have gone to digital and really, I shoot a ton of images. I do this because I desire to capture a story about a person and I think I can do that during a shoot and many images.  What about all the Photography greats that were able to tell a story in a single black and white image? Amazing images. Capturing it in the decisive moment...

Shooting film really does make me so much more deliberate in my framing and shutter control. It really does require more "looking" on my part. Intentional is the word I'm looking for here. I want to be intentional in my shooting.

This week I think I'll set a goal to have my beautiful Hasselblad serviced and cleaned and see what I can do with it. I have an interior marathon shoot coming up in Las Vegas in less than 6 days so I'll have to wait to get started.  I miss film, I miss that feeling of surprise when you pull the film from the canister in the darkroom.  I love seeing the contact sheet for the very first time.

During my photo gathering for this blog I am forced to go through my files and I continually come across old images that I remember taking me forever and required a huge set up and hours in the darkroom printing, and it makes me feel a bit like I've sold myself short.

I think a project may be brewing in my future...

This little image reminds me of the hours I used to put in to get a single image. It's funny to look back and see what you would do differently, I always see so many things in old work.  I think that's good because if you never grew you'd never see what you didn't see before.

Let's shoot some FILM! Who's in?


  1. I certainly don't hate film Kelley, having spent many of my teenage years in a darkroom but I have to admit I don't miss it too much. As some who started off my photographer with b/w film at college I loved being able to take photo with a real camera, develop the film and then mess with prints in the darkroom. Of course there were stresses that went with that:
    - difficulties in getting the film into the reel for the developing tank
    - 8 minutes or so of dread as the film developed, doubting if you'd got the chemicals mix quite right or that you were agitating it enough / too much

    and all the possibilities that I'm sure you can think of or experienced.

    However as much as I loved photography, without having access to a darkroom after I left college, it gradually became 'stale' (I think that's the right word for the feeling I'm trying to convey). It wasn't that I didn't like taking pictures or the like but with only having access to half the story it didn't feel the same. It was incomplete.

    So a few years ago when I purchased my first DSLR, it allowed me to get back to all the enjoyment I had with film. Even better was that it allowed me to get more consistent results from the darkroom than I achieved with film (e.g. dodging & burning is much easier!). Sure it has its own comparative nuances vs film, and undoubtedly causes its own stresses but if offers me a convenience that film couldn't because I can just sit here with my PC and not need any dedicated room for a darkroom.

    It certainly isn't any less time consuming a hobby with digital though - I probably spend even more time in the digital darkroom now that I would've on a negative!

    Maybe its a bit like the difference between a first love / childhood sweetheart (film) vs a husband/wife (digital). Film will always have a place in my photographic heart but I'm married to digital now :-)

    Thanks for a thought provoking post.

    PS I'll say however there's still nothing like a great print created from film as opposed to a digital file ;-)

  2. David! Thanks so much for everything you said. I can't help but tell you I became giddy when you were describing all the stresses of film. I love when people talk about film in such an intimate way. Like describing the personality of someone that only a few know. You forgot to talk about the wonderfully horrible smell of the chemicals. I got an upper respiratory illness every time I had a huge project to complete. LOL
    PS I totally love the rolling of the film, that quiet moment of listening to the film, hoping not to hear it crack, while hearing your own breath at a steady pace trying not to change a single thing about your finger positions, but only if it's working...

    I too am married to digital and I totally appreciated the comparison between the two. I guess I 'm just one of those who tend to forge and plow through duties and jobs (My husband refers to me as being in the mode when I get like this)and I've learned to stop myself sometimes and remember why I do what I do, and to refocus on the love that drew me in. That is really what I'm doing when I revisit my "sweetheart" of a film camera.

    I Agree about a great print. Even the little images in the next post were printed on fiber and just feel better than they could ever look on a blog.

    Super enjoyed your comments, as usual. Thanks so much.
    All the best, Kelley