If you know me at all, you know that I take aspects of old school to a heightened level of funk.
The most consistent and enduring example of this is my love of fountain pens and mechanical pencils and the fact that I write first drafts of almost everything I publish or produce long hand, in graph paper notebooks.
Some think this is a tad eccentric and they may be right but I hardly care. If you’re successful, you’re considered eccentric. If you’re a failure, you’re considered weird. So I’ll take eccentric, thank you very much.
Again, if you know me at all, you know I love to take photographs. Some of my photos have ended up on the covers of books and published elsewhere, hither and yon. Many of them grace the walls of friends, usually gifts from me, but from time to time a wealthy patron will actually pay me for my troubles.
And yet once again, if you know me at all, you know I have a daughter named Hanna, although professionally she is known as Johanna, and you may know that she has done some modeling in her time – nothing major, just the Dior show in Paris, par example – and is making her way in the world and finding her artistic expression on the other side of the camera as a photographer.
But here’s the thing. While I have always shot digital, Hanna who must have picked up her old school predisposition somewhere, I wonder where, prefers to shoot on film. And while I’m an old school gentleman myself, I never understood her desire to do so until a friend gave me a beautiful Minolta Dynex 500si this week and I shot, for the first time in decades, a roll of film.
Suddenly, brave new world, I discovered why Hanna is into film and not into digital.
It hits on so many levels. Putting in the film in the first place. Did it really get in there properly? Am I really taking photographs or is the film just bunched up inside? Will I be wasting my time for the next 24 or 36 shots?
And then – what I think I love the most – the sound and the feel of the click as the shutter opens and closes again. For a photographer, perhaps this is the most satisfying sensation in the world.
Then there is the care that you have to line your shot up with. You only have one chance, you can’t take ten like you do with a digital.
And so you take your shot, but then what? You can’t look at it. You can only hope, maybe pray, that it will turn out. And then you take a bunch of other shots, again hoping and praying, until your roll is done.
And then the film rewinds and you can only hope that the film isn’t all fucked up inside your camera. You open the back and take out the roll and you go to London Drugs or whatever and give it to them so they can develop it and make you some prints.
And then you wait. You’re aware of the exact time that you can go and pick up your prints. It seems to take forever. And when you do pick them up, there is a strange moment of truth when you first see the envelope and see that there are actually prints in there and so far so good, you now have something to look at.
You take your envelope to a special place and open it and look at your prints. What a moment! And then all those shots come back to you. Some suck, most suck. Some are ok. But a few of them, even one of them, might just be inspired.
It’s such a beautiful and prolonged process compared to the instant gratification of seeing what you just shot digitally.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and so I am content to imitate my daughter in this regard, as I think she is the most awesome person on the planet.
She was kind enough to share a recent photo of hers here on my little blog.
As you can see, while I take pictures, she’s actually an artist.
Thanks for reading!