To those who actually read these posts, I know, it's been awhile since I've posted. The past couple of months have been a struggle for me. I have felt that my work and my vision as a photographer has been insufficient, that I was lacking something, that my work wasn't good enough no matter how pretty or technically sound it was. I felt that I needed to do something else, that I needed to shoot what others wanted. Well, that's where I was wrong.
So, why the topic of this post? What does shooting film have to do with a relationship or a honeymoon? I have had the idea for this post for almost a month now, but I did not want to write about something that I didn't quite believe in yet myself. Photography, or anything you do as an artist, is like a relationship. It's a relationship you have with something that you enjoy doing and you feel you're pretty good at. Like a lot of relationships that start, in the beginning it's all excitement and adventure and new. It's different and intriguing. You get the warm fuzzies every time you are out taking pictures. Everything looks AWESOME. You're so in LOVE with every photo. You get a new camera and it's like "oh my god where have you been my entire life". Well, after awhile, I think we all hit that road bump. We all come down from the high of the new relationship we have with film and we start to doubt ourselves. We start to doubt our work. We start to withdrawal and say "well this photo isn't really that good, I won't share it", even if the whole time we were out taking that photo we were excited, the lighting was perfect, it was our favorite film, but we get the film back and we just don't feel it anymore. Or, our equipment starts to break down and everything seems to need replacing, costs start mounting up, we wonder why we ever started, our scanners start acting up on us and we wish we could be super rich so we could just BUY everything and any camera we want and always be able to just go get whatever we want and we start resenting everyone around us who we see buying and enjoying new gear. We lose that feeling we had when we first started. The way it felt to actually TAKE the picture and how beautiful film really is. When I first started, I took photos with my beat up Pentax and I didn't care. I loved the photos I got from it. Lately, I found myself not wanting to take photos because all my gear seemed to be breaking and I was (am always) broke so it's not like I can just go out and buy nice fancy new things.
And just like that, the honeymoon is over. Now maybe you haven't reached this point, maybe you have and you've gotten past it like I'm currently working on. I don't want people to pity me or say things just to bolster my confidence about my work. I had to realize that I have to do it for me. My photos may not be what some people care about, but others might, and if even no one does, if I do, that's what matters. I may not shoot super models or fashion (yet), I may not be Ansel Adams when it comes to awesome landscapes, but I have to remind myself that I care about the photos I take. Each one of them is a memory, a moment. So, when my honeymoon with film ended, when everything stopped being so cheery and bright and sunny, I made myself go back. I started scanning all my old Polaroids, from the very beginning (even before I started shooting a 35mm film camera 2 years ago) I came across some of my daughter and that's when it hit me. Who cares what others think? This moment, this time in Amarillo, Texas out in our back yard when my daughter was 3 years old walking in the field. That is what matters. That is what will last. That Polaroid is something she will have when she grows up, that memory will live. And that's it, that's what matters to me.
I know this is long, and if you've made it so far, I applaud you, you've earned a gold star sticker, but hang in there.
So I dug a little deeper.
I am a self professed perfectionist. Lately it's been even worse. If a photo doesn't come out EXACTLY like how I want it, I'm quick to write it off and be overly judgemental of myself and kind of bash myself for wasting that film or that photo. I'm still working on this. I don't want to lose my drive for perfection in my eye, but I don't want to throw away a photo just because it didn't turn out perfect. This is even more prevalent when it comes to Polaroids taken with a camera like the Colorpack. It's a one shot deal and there isn't really a way to guarantee the focus or exposure except for judging the distance from the subject and using a crude little exposure dial to try and get proper exposure for your photo. One photo that I took several months ago was on our long trip from Florida up to New York for our move. I wanted a photo of Jacqui as my little co-pilot, but seeing as the shortest focal distance that Colorpack can do is 3 feet, you can imagine that getting spot on focus would be tricky in such a confined space. This is the photo-
It is technically speaking a disaster- the subject is completely out of focus, the highlights on her face are blown out and not to mention her face is half cut off.
This photo sat in my car for the longest time, I took one look at it and stashed it up in the little thing that holds your sunglasses that always fall out. It ended up on the floor of the car a few times. It was curled up almost to beyond saving at the bottom of a box in my closet and up until this morning it was just lying on my desk, destined for the discard pile. But after having scanned some of my old polaroids and re-falling in love with a few of them again, I decided to at least scan this photo, if anything to preserve it since it had started to crack on the back from the abuse of being tossed around. What I realized when I looked at it today was that it doesn't matter that it isn't perfect, it captures the mood I wanted to portray perfectly. The obvious setting of being in the car on a long trip. The childs pillow tucked by the door for a nap, the horribly bad for you fast food, the security blanket stuffed animal to keep you company on the long drive, and the feeling of love between the two subjects and trust that she has for me. This moment is everything. It's my daughter and I driving with God knows how many miles ahead of us. It's that moment that I wanted to capture and even if the photo isn't perfect, the moment is.
So that's it. That's what I did when my honeymoon with film ended. I reminded myself of what made me fall in love with film, and photography, in the first place. It wasn't the perfect technical photos of gorgeous little flowers in that golden hour sunlight. It was the moments that I was capturing while taking photos.
Taking photos isn't always about capturing that technically perfect moment or the most beautiful landscape or a gorgeous model (although those are great things to do with film as well, and I'm always inspired by photos by others like that)... it's about the little things too-
It's about sleepovers with your best furfriend.
It's about taking the path less traveled with someone you love.
And it's about finding that perfect moment in an imperfect world and sharing it with the ones you love.
So that's it. If you made it this far then you're done! Thank you for reading this, even as rambling and long as it is, and if you read it all and it maybe helped how you have been feeling about your relationship with photography or any other type of art you do, then please let me know! We can all use some encouragement along the way of these paths of ours.