you can see, be, say, do two things at once. doesn’t mean either of them will be the better for it. may actually be worse for it. but sometimes duality mumbles quietly…something(s) part of both that make a whole.
weird at times, how images appear, then disappear just as quickly. one click of the shutter, usually hurried, shaky, not as sharp as you would like–but there… too far away, wrong camera but you still try to grab it before it’s gone, one frame on a roll of 12 then on to something else. just capture the here, now, if you can. and, you can.
having been away from the “bar business” for quite some time and having given up hanging out for hours in one, i probably am not the best person to ponder if the local watering hole/home away from home/Cheers is still a thing. but i assume it is in that folks will always find a nook to sit, drink, chat, drink, stare at a TV, drink, hear a band, drink, get in a fist fight, drink, pick up a man, woman, farm animal, drink that they can call their own. i know it ain’t just an american thing, but i know we definitely are one of the world’s leaders in said activity.
“We’re living in a funny world kid, a peculiar civilization. The police are playing crooks in it, and the crooks are doing police duty. The politicians are preachers, and the preachers are politicians. The tax collectors collect for themselves. The bad people want us to have more dough, and the good people are fighting to keep it from us. It’s not good for us, know what I mean? If we had all we wanted to eat, we’d eat too much. We’d have inflation in the toilet paper industry. That’s the way I understand it. That’s about the size of some of the arguments I’ve heard.”
—Jim Thompson, The Killer Inside Me
yes, yes, it approaches. the spring season of soccer in the midwest/south. miles on the road between kentucky, ohio, virginia, tennessee, indiana and the like. dreams of trophies and cups. and getting better, always better–ball to foot, earphones to head, foot to gas, smiles to faces. sun-up will be here before we know it and we will start that day.
i have wasted a wealth of words over the past decade pontificating about using film, cheap, plastic cameras and why i still think doing it is relevant. as the populace have adopted photography (again) as a means of communication, storytelling and narcissism with the rise in smartphone usage, somewhere between 6 & 7 our of every 10 persons in the US and UK now have one, it has become harder and harder to find images that have resonance. as i scroll through instagram, pinterest, twitter, tumblr or any other social photo environment there is no short of actual “good” photography. there’s maybe too much good photography as a matter of fact. good photography has become as disposable as the bad. between the cute puppies and the people of new york is a vast variety of fantastic lookables. you can digitally duplicate everything from tack sharp large format work to toy camera or vhs tape cruddy captures. there’s little you can’t make an image look like if you want. which brings me back to film. let’s take the above image for example. it’s pretty boring, who knows where the horizon line should be, between the parking lines, the light poles, the tree line, it’s all somewhat terrible. the face focus is soft, i’m too far away from the subject to really make this photo effective as a portrait, the limitations of my plastic lens have hampered the sharpness because of my bad guess at distance, there’s random dust specs even after i cleaned them up after scanning and all in all you could just count this frame as a throw away…
so why do i love it? i mean you can guess i might love the subject and that helps but that doesn’t really jilt my ability to judge an image…so, i am left lured by the film quality, the color, the crappy-somewhat flat contrast. and the fact that when shooting film, my frames seem, mentally, less disposable. i am just as critical of my personal work yet less willing to dismiss frames of film now without searching corner-to-corner looking for something that might say something to me. is it just about not giving up on an image just because it’s film? possibly. but i’m fine with that. for now. because i want to keep using film. i want photography to continue to take time, thought, rumor, conjecture, innuendo and a little passion. not just my phone placed 24 inches above my head to the left and my lips pouted and cheeks sucked in for something you have dubbed a “selfie.”
whether or not you buy into the whole “it’s a new year, i’m gonna make wholesale changes” narrative that comes with flipping the calendar or not, there’s some to be said for striving to make the next year better than the last. it does kind of suck that you have to motivate change in the middle of the damned winter though. i mean really, it’s 7 degrees and i’m supposed to feel some form of renewal? grade me on a curve, please.
sunny day at the St. Louis arch.
as the holiday is upon us the end of the year is nigh. as the Counting Crows once churtled, “maybe this year will be better than the last.” it’s safe to say we can say that every year. here’s to you and yours if i don’t talk at you before Christmas and New Year’s.
i remember when there used to be debate about whether Christmas was “becoming” too commercialized. that argument sounds quaint now. don’t get me wrong, i am as materialistic and shallow as the next guy, (although i have better shoes than that guy) but wow, we have turned gift buying into something that drives a whole economy, hell, a couple or three of them from China to Japan, to the U.S. to all points in between where cheap labor can be traded for corporate profits for the manufacturers and sellers of these goods. people seemed outraged that stores would open for Christmas shoppers on Thanksgiving Day, only to see the nightly news featuring insane amounts of people camping out, storming the doors and fist-fighting over cheap, large-screen televisions. shopping has become competitive, buying has become sport, saving has become a blood lust and it all leaves me wondering whether any of this is really about giving in the any sort of real spirit of the so-called season. i think we all enjoy the getting part of the giving just a little more than we like to admit. we ‘Mericans we love a game, pretending we beat a retailer at theirs for 25% of list price is something we “win” at every time we see a mail circular touting a bargain and a limited quantity. i can’t believe the sucker-society we have become. and i’m no better.