Behind every refined and polished piece of work, there are weeks, even years, of experimentation and practice. For me, this is the best part. There are no rules, no guidelines, no deadlines, no pressure and no judgement. It is pure, unadulterated fun. Sometimes I get a random idea and spend hours or days setting it up, getting people and props and lights together. Other times, I find myself in the middle of an interesting situation, and I shoot that.
This periodical section of my website will host all of my experimentation, new ideas, and anything else that I’m working on. Mostly photos, some writing, and maybe even some other interesting projects. I have been shooting about one roll of film per week. I have been sending my favorites from each roll to a small group of artists-friends who offer critique and general feedback. The problem with this process is that it limits the exposure of my work to only a few people.
A lot of the ideas that I have been working on certainly require more than just myself. I need models. I need gaffers. I need subjects and props and locations and interesting things to shoot. My hope is that opening up my experimentation to everyone will generate opportunities to work with more people. I spend many hours alone- writing, reading, traveling, developing film, - and this all needs to be balanced with some kind of collaboration.
About 6 months ago I started shooting 35mm film. Before that, I’d never even considered it. I was walking around Ronnie Scott's jazz club in London, looking at the old photos on the wall. So many Jazz legends, many from New Orleans, had beautiful silver gelatin portraits hanging up in the dark hallways. Some of the photos date back to the early 60’s. The harsh club spotlights created beautiful, sharp highlights on the brass instruments. They were almost glowing. All of a sudden, I had a strong urge to shoot jazz clubs in New Orleans, on film. I’ve been a digital shooter for over 10 years. And the technology is only getting better. But that wasn’t the urge. The urge was to shoot jazz. On film.
Oddly, since that night I’ve only shot one jazz musician in New Orleans.
Even though he is a truly amazing percussionist, I do not feel like I have accomplished much on that front. In my defense, it’s been very cold in New Orleans. Especially at night. Also, perhaps I’m not ready. Jazz is the goal. But film is the medium, and it has been a wonderful challenge to learn. Especially since I realized that, apparently, photo labs are not what they used to be. And the results vary from “lazy” to “like we give a shit about your film”. So, I’ve started developing at home, which has been a therapy beyond words. The process is arduous. There is endless trial and error, troubleshooting, research, and at the end of the day, rewarding results.
When considering the 35mm format, the comparison to digital is fruitless. Digital photos can emulate 35mm film flawlessly, and then you can duplicate your raw file and do a thousands other things with it. So, then, quality is not the selling point.
The best that I can figure is that shooting on film elongates the process. Shooting digitally has its own process, but shooting film has a longer, more tedious process.(Unless you’re being tedious in photoshop…but I’m not up for staring at a screen for 9 hours).
And that is the bottom line- shooting film takes longer. And the bottom line to that bottom line is, I love photography. And the more time I can spend working with my photos, the better. I’ve spent more hours a happy man since I started shooting film, and that, to me, is therapy. There are only a few experiences that bring me to a point where I forget everything else in my life, so that I may focus on what is in front of me.