Tuesday, 15 September 2009
jen | sophik shoots film
Why do you shoot film, Jen?
My personal relationship with photography began when digital was still just a possibility and not yet a reality. I was entering into my freshman year of college and my father had gifted me his old 35mm minolta xg-m along with a system of lenses including a 2x auto tele converter, 50mm, wide angle and macro lenses. I had no idea how to use any of it and had no prior training in photography what-so-ever, but I was immediately transfixed with the idea of figuring it all out.
Within a matter of weeks into my freshman year, I moved into the Photo House dorm where there were darkrooms on our floor and photo studios down the hall, and even better, I surrounded myself with a community of photography student friends who were endlessly inspiring, patiently answered all of my questions and were incredibly supportive, like family. Formally, I was not a student of photography, mind you, though informally I certainly was.
My affinity with film photography really blossomed in the darkroom. Feeling the wet slimy rolls of film, printing with enlargers, the endless paper possibilities. It was brilliant. A beautiful tactile relationship was formed. I liked the smell of the chemicals, the dull hum of the darkroom, magically watching my image appear in the developer bin, how everyone around me had their own formulas for processing their own black and white film of choice as well as their own particular paper of choice to print with -- which I feel in a way, helped to define us all individually. Even though at the time I could never get my film onto my reels by myself (I always needed a friend to help me) I loved it. I loved everything about it. Before I knew it I was was learning special toning techniques and how to process cyanotypes and vandyke browns.
What is more, beyond falling in love with the experience of using almost all of my senses in the process of creating photographs, I was given access to a cage of large format camera equipment, as well. I had apparently taken so many elective photography courses, I was considered a third year photo student according to the photo department cage computer system. Empowered with opportunities to rent 4x5 cameras and 2-1/4 cameras with names like toyo and hasselblad (for free!) and take them on trips with me, just about made me fall in love all over again.
My knowledge of all of these things, knowing film and experimenting with film to such a degree at the start gives me a special appreciation for film photography that I hold near and dear. Today, my preference for film has much to do with the relationships I have with my own cameras and the films I use with them. With film, there is really much more opportunity for variety and I prefer the quality I get with film.
I purchased my first professional digital camera in 2007 and I have to say I feel I am a much different film photographer than I am digital photographer. Not only is this difference in the images I produce, but mostly in the feeling I get from shooting... which can be very telling in the photographs I take. Or at least, I like to think so. There is a thoughtfulness involved in shooting film that just isn't there with digital, and its this thinking that makes all of the difference for me. I ruminate over which camera to choose, film to load and what it is I am shooting or where it is I am going defines these choices for me.. it is a bit of a meditative process and I personally find it to be quite intimate.
My digital camera often thinks for me... and although at times this can be nice, I find with the help of an espresso, a really good breakfast or a sugary cupcake, being more of an active participant in the process of making photographs is so much more fun. ;)
Jen has just published a Blurb book - we never really knew what times it was - with film photos from a recent camping trip. See more of her photos on Flickr.
Labels: why do you shoot film?