One could write a pretty long essay about the greatness of analog photography and why it is still preferred by many in the world of fine arts. In fact that is already out there (Sontag, W.Benjamin, R. Barthes). I won’t go into great depth. What I have to say is much more a statement of my thoughts on this medium and why I find it great.
I feel more and more that the camera you choose is the most important thing, then the film. With that everything changes. It is a tool, and getting to know your tool is of great importance. You will come to know its strengths and weaknesses, and maybe this is why so many photographers swear to one kind of camera. They know it works for them and produce equal to what they want to express. A different camera takes a different picture. It can’t be standardized and beautified through software.
When the picture is taken, you have to wait. Wait for the rest of the role to be finished, wait for the development and the prints. I like this process, the waiting in anticipation.
There is something very fascinating about the not knowing part. I can take one picture. The motive is great the light seems perfect but then when it is developed and printed it turned out very different from what I thought. It is the element of surprise that makes it interesting, and the fragility but also possibilities that lie behind every click. When I take a picture with my analog camera I’ll take the risk of missing that moment. I will not know how it will look. If I walk away from the frame I might loose it forever.
Once again I have failed to put in the film properly, it happened to me before, and it always brings back memories from a childhood vacation where we had to climb the same cliff twice in a day as there was no film in the camera the first time.
I discover it, as the film should be finished but just keeps on giving and giving. I rewind it only to discover that the release is immediate. I spend a couple of moment regretting driving around London with no result. On the other hand, when I think about it I can’t really remember what I for aimed and shot. So I stop regretting.
I am sure the image meant something to me in that moment where I chose to aim, but now I can’t remember what I aimed for, and it is no longer important.
Later in that day I remember some frames and I start regretting again. I find myself going back to the same place and reshooting some images. But it is done. The moment has passed the light is different, there is no longer beauty in it, and I am disappointed.
My old Olympus pen has a light leak. Sometimes it is noticeable sometimes not. But when noticeable it is noticeable, and covers most of the picture. In a way I should stop using it. I know that most of the outcome wont be good, but then there are the few pictures that might be, and I find myself inserting another film every time the old one is finished. It is somehow beautiful that the camera makes the decision of weather or not I get to see my picture, some of them, which I don’t remember taking in the first place. I am as little in control as I can be. And yet I am trying to be.
I put in a black and white film, but I regret it the instant that I see beautiful colors. They wont be transacted on to the film. I wish I could just make a quick shift into color film and then back to the black and white, but that is impossible. I say to myself that I am probably not a black and white person. But then when I get the negatives back, scan them in as RGB I find a new beauty in them, and am pleased of the way they turned out with their sepia. I wont desaturate them, the slightly dirty off color look gives me a new satisfaction, and I wonder if I should give the black & White film another chance to prove its worth.
For me analog photography is less about the notion of taking a picture, but the process, the risk but also as with all photography, the chance that encounters the moment. Pure luck of passing the good frame, while I have bothered to bring my camera.
And then I love the way the picture can blur in such an imperfect way, the dust on the negatives that translates onto the print and the fact that I can have them in a box and take them out and hold them as a physical object while I look through them.