Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Not nobody

Why do I keep shooting black and white film? This question has popped up a few times in the past couple of months. There were even two incidents when the person who was asking was very connected with fine art in some capacity. I was told that nobody shoots film anymore, and especially black and white. I felt almost as if I was being laughed at for being not with it. 

Not that it bothered me though. I have never been much interested in the status quo. I think the greatest creativity comes from within, not from in conforming to trends. Sure, digital photography is no longer just a trend. That doesn't mean that film is dead though. I will keep shooting as long as they keep making it.

Film photography is a process, that allows me to keep my eyes on what is happening around me and not at the little screen on the back of a camera. I usually wait until I have ten rolls in the can before I develop. Recently that means that I don't see what is on the first roll until about 2 months after I made the exposures. Most of the time I forget what I shot, which is very important. It allows me to see the image for what it is and not for what I thought it would be. The separation process that occurs allows the creator to step away from the work and be able to see it stand on its own.

I shoot monochrome out of habit and now my eye seeks out contrasts and not color. Many years ago (before digital), I tried to do both, with a camera on each shoulder, with color reversal film in one and b&w in the other. It never worked. I can only do one, and to tell the truth, it was just by chance that I got access to a darkroom that allowed me to print my own black and white, so I gave up on color.

I am not a commercial photographer. If I was, I am sure I would be forced to shoot digital. I do like the ease of a digital image for just documenting life and sharing things over the Internet. Hence, the digital image used in this post. I also admit that I like being able to clean up a scanned photographic print with photoshop. Maybe that makes me a cheater or a hypocrite, so be it.

I can make my own choices. Medium and technique are the nuts and bolts that make up the language of an art form. The real reason why I still shoot black and white film is that I feel comfortable with the form. I still get frustrated with it, especially when it comes to printing, but the frustration comes from my own shortcomings, not from the medium itself.