A friend of mine recently asked me about why I always mention whether a photograph was taken digitally or with film. Especially because film isn’t replacing the photographer’s skill. I thought about this a bunch and realized that film changes the process of taking a picture. Each shutter click costs so much money and film forces you to be more thoughtful about each composition; it teaches you to move on from ideas that aren’t working. I was just reading a really good blog post by a wood worker
and he talks about how “few people have the ability to engage in the making of something.” When I am taking pictures with a film camera, I get more of a sense of creating something. So much has to be working in unison to get shots like these. Juggling all the technical variables in addition to working with another dynamic human being is what keeps photographers coming back to their cameras. This series is from a shoot with Sophia Brawner in one of the Detroit suburbs. We were both freezing but who could’ve passed up huge snowflakes like these.
Sometimes you wake up and everything looks absolutely perfect. I love that we get such gorgeous representations of all the seasons here in Michigan. It took me so many years to learn how to dress properly and now snowflakes like these are such a welcome sight. I hope you are getting out to enjoy the snow this winter.
A photograph is such a thin slice in time but a good image can leave us with feelings that extend much further beyond that one instant. When we look at an image we extrapolate a story before and after that moment. Not only that, when one person looks at a picture they have their own unique perspective and story around it. One person may look at this series of images and think about a memory of having coffee with a special person, another might think about their first job as a barista, and a third person may think of their morning ritual. These stories we assign to photographs connect us to these images. Photographers do their best to create a venue for people to establish these connections; sometimes we succeed.
I am always thankful when people let me take their pictures but I especially appreciate it when I am shooting film. With a film camera, I can’t give them the instant gratification of reviewing an image. So, it takes a lot of trust in a stranger to take your picture if they aren’t even going to show it to you. Thanks people.
This is another series with my mamiya 645 on Kodak Ektar 100 film.
I saw this woman taking pictures in Downtown Chicago and I made her a playlist. Check it out:
Here are two photos from my last trip to NYC. I drove across the country with my parents and sisters to surprise my brother at his favorite restaurant. It was a really memorable trip—almost too memorable for me to be behind a camera the whole time. After we found him, I was walking through the city and came across the building on the left. I loved how the clouds were rolling over us and I knew that film would have enough dynamic range to capture the building and the bright sky. That was the last photo on that roll. Right after the exposure, I huddled down to replace the film. My next shot was the photo on the right. It wasn’t until I saw my film scans that I realized how these images perfectly mirror each other. Even the clouds in each photo seem to blend together across these frames.
The time it takes to receive your film scans from the lab is perfect for inducing deja vu. It is almost like they wait to scan the images till this tipping point just beyond a fading memory. I have been traveling with only my film photography gear for the last few trips. Film makes me shoot a lot less and I get better at remembering my environment aside from the camera’s viewfinder. Ask any film photographer and they will tell you about the joy of receiving your scans.
Once in a while, those scans reveal correlations like this one. I couldn’t resist sharing it with you.
If you want to hang these prints on your wall, check out the Eat Pomegranate Market.
P.S. I am writing this blog post from a coffee shop in Portland, OR. Just as you start forgetting about this post, I will upload photos from my current trip to the Pacific Northwest.
I always go after hands in shoots because they tell so much of a story.
When I take pictures I am thinking about how that set of images will look hung up a wall. People are usually looking for patterns and we are stringing together a story from a series of images. I take pictures with the hope that my audience will piece together a story or maybe let their imagination take them beyond the images. Here is a mini photo series with Alexa.
I loved this moment and I was even more excited to see it captured when I got the film scans back.
A note on film
Film captures color better than the majority of digital cameras. I really love picking the right camera and the right film for each shoot. Even the process of shooting an image is more thoughtful and intentional. All these things combined make up for when photographers say “there is just something special about film.”
These images were shot with a Mamiya 645 film camera using Kodak Ektar 100 film.
Blue and Pink
Most times the simplest photographs become my favorites. This image is a perfect example.
I keep looking at how well Alexa’s eye color registered on film
Kodak Ektar might be my new favorite film. I just got scans back of a few rolls and I am in love with each exposure. The contrasty saturated results of this film also makes it perfect for a Spring shoot.
Lately, I have only been taking one roll with me to shoots and limiting myself to 15 exposures. This is a shoot with Alexa in a little garden.
Camera: Mamiya 645 Pro
Film: Kodak Ektar 100
Lab: Indie Film Lab
When I am working with the 645 aspect ratio, I automatically hunt for symmetry. This bench was exactly what I was looking for.
I am always on a lookout for cool doors. We found this one a few blocks away from the Guardian Building.
If you time it right parts of Detroit can feel like you are all alone in the city. Early weekend mornings and some weekday evenings in this make it feel like you have the whole city to yourself. I could spend days shooting along the urban landscape of Detroit’s buildings. The symmetry of all these structures are one of my favorite backdrops. A few weeks ago, I met up with Shannon in Downtown with a few rolls of my favorite film and my medium format camera. We shot a total of 30 photos and I love each and every one of them. This film registers color so artfully. I always see such a wider spectrum of color when I am using this film and camera combination. Getting film processed and scanned is like meeting a long lost friend after years of being apart. I hope you enjoy these.
This might be my favorite photos from this series because of Shannon’s expression; she is so fierce. I intentionally overexposed this roll to mute the buildings in the back while keeping Shannon as the main focal point.
Camera: Mamiya 645 Pro tl
Film: Kodak Portra 400
Lab: Indie Film Lab
Freedom is selfish – and let me tell you why.
Autonomy and independence allow people to roam; they allow people to wander. Wanderlust is good though, and inspiring, right?
Having freedom, and having too many choices, allows people to miss things. These choices pass by people and just go unnoticed. People quit seeing things when they’re faced with insurmountable decisions every day like billboards and television commercials. This jadedness changes though when people see something new, something remarkable, and sometimes challenges can provide people with just that; something remarkable.
Allowing yourself to have choices is selfish because you don’t get to challenge yourself to produce something ingenious, resourceful, or imaginative that will then inspire others.
Consequently, I’ve decided that I’m not going to be selfish. I want to inspire others, and myself. As a result, I’ve been seeking blues. Blues and angled lines. Restricting myself to such few characteristics has forced me to look at things in a different way. I now seek out structure in an otherwise unstructured world. Interesting, huh?
Some photographers abide by photo challenges. Some photographers restrict their tools. Some photographers shoot specific details. These are all trials which test our abilities to craft something extraordinary. Something that people will notice.
Because of the limitations I’ve begun putting on myself, I’ve found myself in new places; places that even wanderlust couldn’t have lead me to.
Yes, freedom is selfish. It’s selfish because of what you can’t produce when you’re free. Sometimes, placing yourself in a box means having to get creative in order to escape, and creativity is the fiber of a unique and beautiful world; the world that we all live in.