8.14.2014

New Mediums


I've been talking a lot about using new mediums around here. Well, I think I may have just found my favorite. of all time. film. These are just a few of my favorite from the last few months of traveling and working. These images mark the beginning of my journey with film professionally and I couldn't be more excited. and a little nervous.

My love of film started when I was, hmmm actually probably at the exact moment I fell in love with photography. I mean it had to be, I learned to shoot on film. I started taking pictures when I was in 8th grade. I really don't remember there being a sharp learning curve, I just adjusted and clicked and then looked at my film later and re-adjusted my settings. I had my favorite lab in town, it was at Walgreens. At that time, they had a dedicated person developing film. And they were good. You could get your film in an hour and I loved getting my film in an hour. loved it. I remember when I got my first digital camera ever. It was a gift from a family at a church I worked at in Palm Beach. I was joining the Peace Corps in a few months and they gave it to me, along with a few memory cards. I was standing on the beach when I received it. I'll never forget that moment. Little did they know, I was struggling with the thought of how much film I would have to take in my suitcase for 2 years while I lived in my village in Africa. What bottle of shampoo would I have to sacrifice to take my beloved 35mm rolls. I had ruled out film at that point and was so thankful for this gift. In fact, it tainted me a little. I started to push that digital camera button like a machine gun. Not because I had a plan, but because I could just capture an insane about of images. I thought at the time, I was capturing the moment even more. Little did I know, I was missing more of the moment….

Starting this journey as a professional photographer into film this past summer, has taught me so many things. Of all things, it has taught me to slow down and be in the moment more. I started researching previous film photographers and just the photography movement of the last century in general the last few weeks in an effort to put into words here what I felt like I couldn't babble on about on my business page. These words, an excerpt from an old book giving tribute to Ansel Adams as an amazing photographer and artist, I felt really captured in conversation form the essence of the start of photography (the style that we know and love) as a recognized art form and left me pondering how much our culture has changed because of it. Left me pondering how powerful of a medium photography has been for me and has left me still searching for words to explain to you why I will always reach for my film camera over my digital. 

There is something so raw about photography. More raw than any other medium. Quite possibly the most powerful way of communicating. These words below talk of Ansel's journey, those artists he admired, the "realist" movement of photography, and how powerful an f-stop can be.  Powerful if not revolutionary in nature. 
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"The perception of photography as too mechanical and "realistic" to be a truly fine art was then still wide-spread. Partly in reaction, "pictorial" photographers tried in various ways  to soften realism, resorting to soft-focus lenses, brush strokes on the negative, soft-texture papers-- anything that would make their photographs not look like photographs. But some independent spirits such as Edward Weston were taking the opposite track, production sharply focused pictures and printing on glossy papers. "Such prints retain most of the original negative quality. Subterfuge become impossible. Every defect is exposed, all weakness equally with strength. I was the sharp beauty a lens can so exactly render, " said Weston. 

Ansel realized that, as Imogen Cunningham said, "there are fewer good photographers than painters. There is a reason. The machine does not do the whole thing." He also realized that the two-dimensional monotone nature of a black and white photographic image was in itself a radical departure from reality and needed no further embellishment. He was readily converted to Weston's approach. Looking over many of his negatives,  he saw he would have to start over. After 1931 he steadfastly objected to use of the word "pictorial" in reference to his work. 

With West Coast Photographers of a similar bent, among them Weston, Cunningham, and Willard Van Dyke, he formed Group f/64. The number designates a very small lens aperture capable of producing an image with maximum definition. The group's advocacy of "straight" photography had a revolutionary influence on attitudes in the wold of photography. 

- Excerpt from  "Celebrating the American Earth", A tribute to Ansel Adams