Fabulous Film Fridays
Having a project to focus the process of artistic growth is usually a great idea. For 2011, my partner Darwin and I are going to play with our film cameras. As it turns out, when we went to look, we had four film cameras each! We decided to introduce the project today, on Friday, December 31, the last day of 2010. Every Friday we’ll alternate posts of images taken with our film cameras. To hear my thoughts on why film, why Fridays and why we’re not crazy, head over to Darwin’s blog. To learn why Darwin is acting like a kid at Christmas over this project, read on…. The photo below was taken with my 4×5 Tachihara view camera using Fuji Instant Film.
Sam: You look so happy cuddling those film cameras! Can you introduce us to them?
Darwin: Sure. The two cameras around my ample turkey waist are a Canon EOS-1n and a Holga 120N. The Canon used to be my bread and butter camera and it has produced many of my best selling stock photos and so I simply could not sell it when I went digital (plus Canon just does not seem to make cameras as good as this anymore). The Holga is my toy camera–I call it Bop. It is not as pretty as your Holga (Beep) but it takes way better pictures! The big camera busting my biceps is the Linhoff 6×12 panorama camera (Linny) that I won as Travel Photographer of the Year in 2008. I have only shot about 20 rolls of film through it and so I need to work her harder. The camera by my face is a Polaroid SX-70 instant camera (she is named Sex-Y. I have owned it forever (since the 80’s) and she is old and seems to have camera cancer from toxic instant film chemicals. For awhile I could not even get film for the camera! Occasionally Sex-y will feel better and go out with me to make a photo but I think I may have to put her down soon. 😦
Sam: Why film? Isn’t it a bit of a lost art or, at least, too time-consuming for the average career-photographer (since you have to scan film to share it)?
Darwin: I love film, it has a look that is different from digital. It’s organic, it’s analog, it’s real and actually exists! I also love the magic of the unknown with film. No matter how confident you are with your craft, film often surprises you, sometimes in a good way, sometimes not so good. I love the anticipation of getting film back from the lab. Digital kills that anticipation. Film actually takes less time for me than digital. With film, I just take the film to the lab, pick it up later, look at the prints or slides and then pick the one or two images I like to keep. There is no processing of RAW images, no editing of stacks of digital images and no backing up countless hard-drives. It is so hands-on, so immediate and so ‘there’ in my hands. I can feel film. I cannot feel a digital file.
Sam: Tell us more about why you are excited to play with these film cameras.
Darwin: When you shoot with film you have to think differently than with digital. You have to get it right in camera because there is no fixing things after the fact like most people do with digital. In short you need to be a better crafts-person and slow down and be more careful. Film allows me to engage with my environment more. I do not spend any time looking at a camera LCD or checking histograms. I just shoot; the film camera is a simple extension of my eye. Digital photographers are always interacting with their cameras and not with their subjects. They miss a lot of moments chimping the LCD.
Sam: I have to ask — chimping the LCD? Is that some kind of primate thing guys do in secret with their cameras that I probably don’t want to know about?
Darwin: That’s right… it’s not pretty and not for girls.
Sam: Right. We won’t go there. Changing subjects…I guess that these four film cameras will serve you well for this year-long project?
Darwin: Are you kidding? With this project I have a legitimate excuse to find and buy other film cameras — yippee! I have a ‘project’ that justifies getting more gear! Plus film cameras are soooo cheap to buy used now. I think at least a half dozen cameras will be required to do this project justice don’t you?
Sam: We need to talk a bit more about the parameters of this project.
Darwin: You mean that you want some new film cameras too? Awesome!
Sam: Ummm… Darwin let’s go talk in private….
Meet the Family!