photography talk : On Loving (and Losing) Film




When my class learned about natural disasters in forth grade, we learned the story of Harry Truman, the old man who refused to vacate his house when Mount St. Helens erupted. He was killed by a wave of volcanic ash : "If this mountain goes, I'm going with it".

I thought of him earlier this month, when I brought in a roll of film to the processing lab. The cost doubled over night. So, I called the drugstore down the street, and during their remodel 2 weeks earlier they got rid of their 35mm machine. I looked down at my film canister and wondered ... am I Harry Truman? I guess I’ve believed that if a group of people loved something enough, it would survive. But, it hit me that this thing – the only hobby I’ve ever truly had – could really go away.

When I got home, my sister’s boyfriend brought in a dozen eggs from his family’s farm. The matte shells were covered in seamless bumps, each barely a different brown.I loaded a roll  into my camera, held the window up to my eye, and focused the lens. I hesitated, wondering if what I was seeing was worth the cost to process it. Suddenly the film felt precious. Too precious. And I put the camera down.

We got through six of those eggs before I realized they’d be gone forever unless I took a basically useless photo set.

But, if it wasn’t for my camera I wouldn’t have noticed the slight textured of the shells, or their perfect symmetry. None of that existed before photography for me. There were no small miracles then, and my connection to everything was elusive. I learned how to look at life – and how to love it – when it was something that I could finally keep.

What I’m trying to say is this : it's worth it. They're all worth it. The true wonders of this world are in daily life.

  (photo) on film with Nikon FM.  More on my Flickr. (eggs) from Harmony Jack Organic Farm in Scio, Oregon. 
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13 comments:

  1. Nicely put. My husband still shoots in film, it is expensive and he certainly thinks more about each image than with digital. It's very true that each moment is worth it- but there is something to be said wfor that editing that comes from having to make choices. Your image of the egg is lovely... but with my digital camera I may have taken twenty five!

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    1. I definitely feel the constraints of frame count when it comes to taking pictures of people - I wish I could take 25 so I could get just one where someone's eyes aren't half closed!

      But, I don't really miss that when it comes to still-life. No one's going to keep two-dozen photos of brown eggs, they whittle it down to one or two. Film teaches me how to edit the shot before I take it.

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  2. This is such a beautifully written piece, and so true. I feel the same way about photography - the small connections to what you're seeing, the way it really opens up your eyes and brings and important appreciation to what we see around us. Photography is precious in general, and worth every capture.

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  3. beautiful. i really adore you and your perspective, sam.

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  4. Shooting film is becoming so expensqive :(

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  5. I read this to my dad, who loves taking photos on film, and he loved it. You have such an amazing way with words.

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  6. This might be one of my favorite posts you've written! You always have such an excellent and thoughtful perspective.

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  7. So true! Anything that makes you savor and enjoy moments in life more (or at all) are always worth it. A & I have been experimenting with film with our collected cameras. People that are passionate about what they enjoy will always work to keep it alive! PS: We should go wandering & shooting pictures sometime! Just let me know!

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  8. I am new reader from Denmark and I adore your photography. What kind of lens do you use for your k1000?

    I became a Pentax-owner a few months ago, and I have the same feelings about life now. Suddenly you notice the colors of the trees, nature, sunsets, all of the pretty things you used to take for granted.

    Liva

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    1. Hi Liva,
      I use a 50mm lens on my Pentax K1000. It goes all the way down to a 1.4 aperture and let's in so much light! Isn't it incredible the way a camera changes the way you see the world? I'm so grateful for it.

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  9. I might look around for a 50mm then and thank you so much for answering! Are you going to do an "about" on this blog? Would love to read more about who you are.

    Liva

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    1. Liv, I totally recommend one - a photographer told me it's the most similar to the way the human-eye sees (and it's my favorite!) I do have an about page here . It's linked up to the picture on my sidebar, but maybe I should make it more clear! Thanks for asking + letting me know!

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  10. You should definitely make it pop more because it’s lovely! What are you reading right now? I’m currently reading about a guy called Ishmael and a big white whale. :) Can’t sleep without my books.

    I think I’m going to read your whole blog in the weekend. Can’t wait for your next “photography talk” post.

    Liva

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Thank you so much for commenting, Darling Reader! I read + love each and every one of them. (Anonymous commenting has been turned off due to robots)

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