I’ve been culling over hundreds of photographs these past few days, trying to decide which to submit as a portfolio for a photography fellowship. I think I have two that I’m fairly certain of.
In addition to said portfolio, I’ve also got to write up a neat and tidy statement about what I intend to do with the big fat grant they’re handing out; how I’ll use it to further myself as a photographer and artist. My chances of actually receiving this grant are slim to none, so I’m applying for fun.
My background and education are almost dismal- an entry level university course and years of seeking information on my own, experimenting, dabbling, hands-on learning, attempting time and time again to go above and beyond anything I’d done or seen. I don’t think I’ve ever accomplished this aim; in photography the first thing I learned was that everything had been done and everyone has seen anything I’ll ever try to show them. It all sounds quite discouraging- and if you dwell on this idea, it is.
But there’s a vitality to the whole thing that cannot be denied; a light that I fear is being lost as little bits and pieces of the medium become extinct. It is that uncanny ability, that naturally occurring emotive quality that I’ve not seen elsewhere; that is my driving force and that is what attracts me with what can only be described as sheer gravitational force. I was meant to play with light.
What truly makes me sad, what has me feverishly switching on the light in the middle of my nights of tormented sleep, and what has me saving pennies for the first time in my life- not for a new mac, or a nice car, or that first house- is the impending apocalypse; the end of film. I have a stockpile of Polaroid in our refrigerator crisper, a box of paper, and several rolls of odd-ball 35 that I’ve collected on clearance over the past year. Like many a previous Apocalypse, this one snuck-up on me and blinded me one day whilst driving around town to six different locations hastily looking for a single roll of Kodak Max- something that a year prior, you could have found at all six locations and a year later I failed to find at any. Fuji is all anyone carries anymore and they never made a low end, color process black and white film (or any BW for that matter), so you can say goodbye to the amateur photographer that loaded a roll of BW into a point and shoot just for the fun and wonder of what the world might look like without any color.
You might be asking yourself where this out-of-the-blue rant came from. It’s been building, after the death of Polaroid, the disappearance of Kodak, the closing of almost all Kodachrome processing plants, the cancellation of most photography related courses, the steep hike in process of everything film-related at almost every retailer I frequent, but most importantly after learning of yet another major darkroom closure here:
The principal argument that got me was the idea that film photography creates a different kind of photographer; a community and a network of individuals that share knowledge, experiences, equipment even. And with the advent of digital photography, this entire world is disappearing, and fast.
At this point, I imagine you’re tired of hearing me rave on (and if you’ve made it this far, I commend you). If you’d like to hear someone more eloquent (and far more experienced) voice their concerns, I recommend the article and corresponding photo essay at the above link. Also, be sure to read the article that the photographer wrote about his inspiration and reasoning.
…It was as though the magic had been sucked out of the room when the lights came on.