Yesterday was a productive day for my personal photography.
Last week (I think?), my advanced photography class had our first in-progress critique of our semester’s project. Everyone in class has been making wonderful progress on their project; everyone was responding positively and helping each other develop their idea even more.
When I made my post about “new year new work,” that same project has been continuing, however, as I eluded to in that post, the idea has morphed a little bit. While the imagery is the same, the actual concept has been modified pretty distinctly. More talk on that later.
Yesterday, February 14, Valentine’s Day, I was reminded of why photography is my “valentine.” We did a quick in-progress critique of my classmate Nathan’s project and then had the remaining time to work — the class is three hours long, for context.
I have photography classes four days of the work week — and they all get out at 4 p.m. I have work until 4:30 p.m. on Fridays. My weekends are usually spent studying, doing photojournalism assignments for work, catching up on sleep, grocery shopping, cleaning, regular living things, ya dig? Because of this, I rarely get to make daylight photographs. Many of my colleagues in the school of art have seen a majority of my work be shot at night — and there’s a good reason for that. I rarely have the time during the day to make the photographs I really want to make.
Getting out of class early to go work was a blessing. I waddled back to my apartment with too much warm clothing on, closely eyeing the weather, or rather, the sky. I was hoping for an overcast afternoon, as there were a few subjects in town I wanted to photograph with the backdrop of a grey sky.
As I’ve been studying this idea of “contemporary landscape” or “vernacular landscape,” however you want to put it, I’ve found that the color, or lack thereof, is important to how the image is read. It’s not just a visual aesthetic, it’s also about the emotion or meaning behind the subjects, often juxtaposed with whatever the artist is photographing.
With this thought in mind, I gathered up my film cameras — minus the 4x5 field camera — and set out to drive around town and find some subjects. There’s a concrete yard just outside of campus that I’ve always wanted to photograph, and I finally had my chance. I set up shop, leveled my tripod head, famed the image in the Hasselblad 500C, and swapped out for my digital camera (I’ve been making digital doubles of each image I make on film as a failsafe, in case the film doesn’t come out — this is especially important for the 4x5 photographs — luckily, the field-of-view on an 80mm Hasselblad lens is the same as that of a 45mm on a 35mm camera, which makes things so much easier).
After driving around and making four photographs for my project, I felt joyful for the first time in a while. I was excited about what I had just photographed. I didn’t rush them, I thought about every aspect of the images, treating my tripod as an easel. I was dancing in my car to the music I was listening to on my way back to campus to process the digital images.
Part of me believes that this joy comes from shooting film, but I don’t think it’s just that. It’s a reminder of why I do what I do — photography gives me more joy in life than almost anything else.
As this saga of film photography continues, and the weather begins to warm up, the title of “freezing film” will no longer apply directly to the weather, as it did originally — instead, it’ll be playing on the fact that the only two things I have in my fridge are film and beer.