Sunday, September 21, 2008

Film and Paper Photo Essay

Years ago, I was an avid photographer. In fact, I was almost never without my camera. Instead of heading out to the bars and parties, I choose to spent Friday and Saturday nights in the darkroom, printing images until the wee hours of the morning. I loved the heft of hauling a big SLR camera up to my eye to focus a scene into the confines of a viewfinder. I love the click of an aperture opening at the push of a button, the whirl of a roll of film winding after the last frame was recorded, and I relished the anticipation of developing a roll of negatives in the pitch black of the studio, just waiting to find out if any of the images are what I expected.

I came across these images I took and printed years ago on my computer when looking through some old college files, and they make me smile. All of the images are from a single role of film, a roll of film that magically captured a frat party with my girlfriends in artistically, authentically, and most of all through my point of view perfectly. These photos are 100% film and darkroom originals. The only effects are from the manipulation of aperture and shutter speed, along with the magic of using real film and real photo paper. There is no Photoshop or graphic manipulation, which I think makes them very special and interesting.

I love this photo essay. It documents the carefree, blurry, energetic feeling of attending a fraternity party in college and drinking too much beer. It is as if the images themselves are intoxicated. You can just feel the slow decent into drunken joy as you gaze over the images, as if you can hear the music and the buzz of the crowd, and sense the camaraderie of a group of silly but genuine college kids having the kind of carefree weekend that they will reminisce on for the rest of their lives. I like how the contrasted black and while film takes all of the motion, action, and movement and frames it starkly into a context that tells a story.

These days, I shoot almost all of my day to day photography with a wonderful point and shoot digital camera. It is wonderful to see what I shoot right away and to have the flexibility to delete or re-shoot if something is not quite right. I enjoy sharing my photos online right away. But at the same time, something is missing from my photography experience when I use the digital that just cannot be recreated into the feeling of shooting film. I think it is the pause, the anticipation, and the now-or-never reality of film, knowing that when you hold a film camera up to take a shot, you absolutely must get the details correct or lose your ability to translate your vision into a permanent, two dimensional image forever. With film, by the time the film is developed and the image committed to paper, the original scene you photographed will be forever different, even if you returned to the exact same spot to re-shoot.

I am going to pull out my old SLR from the closet tomorrow and load it with film. There is too much beauty, action, and perspective in my everyday life to settle for digital forever. Wish me luck reinstating my photographic eye.

1 comment:

Tess said...

My first major was photography. I also spent nights in the darkroom till the wee hours of the morning. Love the photos that are posted. I was cleaning out our closets this weekend and found my 35 mil. have to buy some film also!