I was going to sit on all of this information until I had something good to show you in the form of photos I’d taken, but I figure talking about my recent self-imposed immersion in film photography is just as valuable without pictures. So I am forcing myself away from googling life-altering questions like “What is it with Mormons and diet coke?” to sit down and write to you. I know I’ve devoured every single post from every single photographer that I admire business-wise about their early days. So I thought I’d do this in real time to 1) hold me accountable and 2) keep me from filtering my business experiences through nostalgia a year from now.
I decided a few weeks ago that it was time to finally stop being such a scaredy cat about photographing people either for fun or for money. I realized I could get a photography portfolio up on a website very rapidly based off of my digital photos from the last eight years. Then I realized that I don’t want to be a digital photographer. I want to be a film photographer, and there’s no other to become a film photographer than…by shooting film. So out came my grandfather’s Mamiya Sekor DTL1000 (the camera about which Ken Rockwell said “If you told me that this was the only camera I’d have for the rest of my life, no problem.”), Jon Canlas’ film-shooting guide, and a few rolls of expired, poorly stored film (my fault) that my grandpa also gave to me. This camera has seen continents and decades. It’s built like a tank. I know I could murder someone with it with one good swing if it ever came to that. And the handwoven strap (from Nigeria circa 1970-something) is making me want to kick up my inkle weaving to the next level. Please note both the dangly leather film roll case *and* the ingenious elastic bands to hold extra rolls of film.
There was a roll that’s been sitting in that camera for a few years now, I think it may have had Albuquerque images on it? I decided to shoot my parents in the backyard using poses stolen from Jon’s website. This went alright and served to illuminate the fact that I have no idea what I’m doing (thanks, parents, for the shoot and patience). The next day I went to take the film out, and I’m guessing I loaded it wrong or royally fucked up the unloading or some combination of both, but the film came right off the roll when I tried to re-spool. So. No developing of those photos. But I have taken (and unloaded) two more rolls since then. Casey was my model and marvelous assistant at the library and Bass Pro Shop while I shot.
After trying and failing (for now) to find an around-$200 light meter on eBay, I bought a three dollar watch battery to restore the in-camera light meter on the Mamiya. My plan is to shoot my first roll of Portra entirely with the in-camera meter and see how it comes out.
So what’s next? In light of my recent goal to only do small things, often, next up is simply putting the Portra in my camera. That’s it.
The biggest thing I’ll be overcoming after that is “precious film syndrome.” I need to just choose something to photograph and *go do it*. Not wait for the “perfect” place, because honestly, the odds of me going to, say, downtown San Antonio right now to shoot at Mi Tierra are approaching absolute zero (while the heat indices are still approaching 105 degrees). It’s hard to let go of perfectionism, but perfectionism and inertia are best friends and there are few things I hate more than inertia in terms of accomplishing projects.
So that’s it. See you next week when I’ve accomplished my very first goal of loading a $5 roll of film into my camera.