Photography is disassembly.
One of my favorite things about the infamous shower scene in Psycho is the way that Hitchcocks’ careful camera work literally cuts Janet Leigh (as Marion Crane) into pieces. The audience goes from visuals of the rising and falling knife to individual pieces of Leigh’s body. At least in an impressionistic sense, she is being vut into pieces.
Photography can work much the same way. The camera can take a larger phenomenon (in this case, a farmers’ market) and cut it into the little pieces that hold it together. This particular slice is a box of extra bears full of honey that a vendor had stashed in the back of his Jeep.
Photography is personal.
Good photographs distill the essence of something into an instant. Be it a person, an animal, a car, or a building, the photographs that stick in the memory tell us something about the subject rather than just being a still image of it.
I think this image perfectly captures the attitude of the subject. I guess, to be fair, it’s tough to know whether I’m fairly representing her or not, but I think I’m pretty credible. I am, after all, on the Internet.
Agfa APX 400, Clayton F76+, one of my first self-developed rolls.
Photography is sporadic.
Shooting with any sort of discipline does not come naturally to me. Like everything I do, it starts and stops, sometimes gushes, sometimes trickles. sometimes ceases to flow at all. For this reason, I am glad that roll of T-Max from a few weeks ago had many shots I didn’t use. This is one of them. Again, note the lovely scan quality. I’ll miss you, CVS. I also just might get a film scanner. Maybe.
Kodak T-Max 100 (expired), Clayton F76+, CVS film destroyer.
Here’s the third of the Lincoln series. This one is my favorite, but I am not exactly known for my taste in my own photography. I tried more “artistic” crops, but this is the one I like best.
I have some cross-processed film waiting to be scanned. It’s Fuji 400 color film processed in my Clayton black and white chemistry. I’m hoping for some interesting lo-fi effects, but only time will tell. Unfortunately, my usual source for inexpensive, quick, and low-quality scanning has changed their pricing structure, and now I’m priced out of the game. I’m looking for another source, but until then, they’ll remain in photo-limbo, suspended in my workflow. One of these days.
Kodak Tri-X 400, Clayton F76+.
Photography is subjective.
One of the great “knocked down to size” experiences for a photographer is to show work he or she is proud of to someone who isn’t “into” photography and to have it flatly rejected. I asked a roommate to compare crops of this image, and she had no opinion between the two. Did she love them both madly? No. She didn’t find either remotely interesting. In a way, it’s like having something very personal taken from you. Maybe it’s like watching your child get picked on (I wouldn’t know, but that tired simile is just trite enough for my liking).
When I told her I thought this particular crop (or one very much like it) was funny, she made a face. Not a “you’re right, it is funny” face, either. An “I don’t get it, you’re a narcissist and no one else thinks your baby is cute” face.
This photo also raises an ethical issue I try carefully not to consider: This is a child. It isn’t my first candid street shot of a minor, and it certainly won’t be my last, but these always make me nervous. I know my legal rights, and this is well within them. Not only that, I can resell prints of this image to anyone I please for any price I please (as long as it isn’t destined for commercial use) without so much as a feeble attempt to locate this girl. However, I am terrified that some crazy helicopter parent is going to bash me over the head with an “I have to capture every precious moment of my child’s entire life to sit collecting dust on a shelf underneath my television” video camera one of these days (which, to be fair, would hurt a lot less than my K1000). I hope that doesn’t happen. However, I am also tired of every parent that sees my camera clutching their toddlers to their chests and glowering. There is this terrible assumption that photographs of children are used for some vaguely evil purpose centered around the great evil, the Internet. I’m not sure what evil thing I’m supposed to be doing, but rest assured, I am not doing it. I need a t-shirt that says that. In neon yellow. Any maybe a helmet.
Kodak Tri-X 400, Clayton F76+ 1+9.
Photography is . . . .
Sometimes, one finds oneself capturing a historical image using a historical process, and the resulting image looks so bad some might assume it is, in itself, historical.
Also, photography is sometimes frustrating. That is to say, photography sometimes puts one in frustrating situations. After lugging all of my camera gear around hot D.C. all July morning (more or less stripping at every x-ray machine to get all of my film and lead glass accessories through, and trust me, there are a lot of checkpoints), I get to see the Constitution. The real one. And by all my camera gear, I mean a 35mm SLR, a pair of filters, and a few rolls of film. While this is not much in the grand scheme of photo-things, when one is both coming from digital and chasing around sixty high school students, it’s enough.
Anyway, in order to preserve the Constitution, there is no flash photography permitted. Despite this, since recent advances in camera technology have automated the act of recording an image to the point that few people even know how to control their cameras, a flash goes off at a rate of approximately once per minute. Every time a flash pops on a $59 Wal-Mart digital camera, everyone looks at me. “That guy has an old camera, and old cameras have flashes!” Not only do I know how to enable or disable a flash, my Ricoh doesn’t have one. If I had an enormous flash on the hotshoe whirring with 8000 volts of document-destroying firepower, it would’ve been fair. I didn’t, and it wasn’t.
Now that I’ve sorted out and tagged the scans of the D.C. negatives, I didn’t have to go back to the book o’ negatives to figure out that this is Kodak T-Max 400 (though you’d never know it by the image) developed in Clayton F76+.
D.C. III. Something about the focus and depth of field of this one is very appealing to me. Is it a little bit funny to you? It is to me.
It never ceases to amaze me how much I can learn from looking at my images after I develop them. Looking at this picture, I can count four things that I will do differently next time in less than five seconds. For me, film forces this kind of reflection, while digital doesn’t seem to. Perhaps it’s the removal from the act of shooting (this was shot in July and developed this weekend), or perhaps it’s the economy that a limited number of frames forces. In any case, I am certainly learning.
Kodak Tri-X 400, Clayton F76+, awesome drugstore commercial negative scan (one of these days. . .).