Believe it or not, I’m in the midst of shooting with 4 film cameras. I’ve talked about two of them — the Rollei 35 and the Canon Rebel T2 — both loaded with 36 exposures of Portra 400. I’m playing with two other cameras which are new, in a sense, but I’m not ready to reveal them just yet — I don’t know if they are working properly. Once I develop the film and do the high-res scans, I’ll know for sure.
Shooting slowly and deliberately is something completely new for me. The limited feedback and the per shot cost of film will do that to you. Digital, with its instant and free feedback has made me a frenetic shooter and maybe that’s true for you too. But when you think about it, it’s not just photography. Our modern technologies have a tendency to make us less patient.
Ok, I know I’m going to sound like an old fart but bear with me. When I was growing up I had access to 4 broadcast TV stations. We waited anxiously for movies to be televised years after their theatrical run. And it was an event too. Everyone talked about it the next day. There were no 24 hour cable channels or on demand movies via Netflix. No DVDs or Blu-ray. VCRs became available for $1000 and pre-recorded movies cost upwards of $60 each.
I bought records, sometimes warped even when new, with my hard-earned money to get one or two songs that I really liked. We played and “enjoyed” the entire album because we had no possibility of paying a buck and change for only the songs we liked. The concept of creating our own virtual radio stations via something like Pandora was beyond comprehension. I guess we had top 40 radio where the most popular songs might play a couple of times an hour.
That was my world as a teenager. Waiting a few days or a week to get photographs developed was no big deal. That was the normal pace and we were all patient enough to wait. The concept of one hour photo labs sounded indulgent, even hedonistic. My recent foray into film photography has reminded me of life before internet speed. It’s kind of fun. I don’t remember everything that I shot on my current film cameras. It’ll be like Christmas when I get back my negatives.
I’m not giving up digital, I use it in conjunction with my film experiments. I may be slightly romantic but not impractical. The great thing is, as an amateur, I have the option to wait. I am not pushed by a professional deadline to post photos hours or even minutes after an event.
But all this got me thinking. Even in my most fervent pursuit of efficient digital expediency, I’ve never been an energetic social media guy. I just don’t see the purpose of updating one’s status every minute of the day. And who the heck cares about what I’m thinking about at any given moment. I suppose that’s why I enjoy blogging and long form posts more than instantaneous tweets. Perhaps having a bit more patience, forethought and analysis before we all say something will be good for everyone. Or maybe I’m just an old fart and slowly slipping into becoming a card-carrying Luddite.
Note: I shot the photograph above with a Canon Rebel T2 film camera loaded with Kodak Portra 400 with a 35mm lens and flash, converted to black and white with digital post processing.