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.”
photography — with all the advances, the fact that “everyone” has access to a rather sophisticated camera on their phone, and more importantly a real willingness to use it — still relies on some tried and truisms to work as a tool of interest and art. light sure helps. shadows, too. i like lines, and if we’ve learned anything from the internet it’s that girls in a photo are capable of making said photo, er, better. or something. anyway, this wasn’t taken with a digital camera of any kind. instead taken with a Diana, with film, at the Arch in St. Louis. looks like a few people were suspect of me using this device by the stares gathered in this one frame. i guess i should have pointed my phone at them.
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 don’t consider myself any sort of beer snob, expert or anything. merely an appreciator of really good beer. it’s good time to enjoy beer. it was always a given that you had to have beer originating from the sausage eating parts of the world to really get the get stuff, or at least head to the U.K. but now with the craft brewers of America absolutely polluting the market with incredible product it’s just a matter of finding what you like and sampling as much of it as you can…well, that’s my little philosophy anyway. here’s to Lexington’s growing beer community and the makers and drinkers of the product.
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.
a boy blames everyone and everything but himself when he loses, a man takes responsibility for what happened. lessons you learn in competition. if you lose, you do it with some dignity, some grace and you learn what to do to lessen the likelihood of similar outcomes. so the fall soccer comes to an end great victories, stinging defeats. now, rest, regroup and work on the things that make you a better player, a better person and work on that man you are becoming.
“It is the part of a wise man to keep himself today for tomorrow, and not venture all his eggs in one basket.
Lou Reed’s passing got me thinking about the songs that shape us all in one way or another. at my age, there’s thoughts of 45 rpm records, greatest hits albums, crappy K-Tel compilations, am radio jams and that occasional hum and crackle of “oldies” being played on Friday nights. which brings me to The Shangri-las. the all-girl teenage group from new york that had a #1 hit with Leader of the Pack in the mid-60s. every boy my age remembers the goosing of the motorcycle throttle in that song. but there other “big” single was “Remember (walking in the sand).” something about the hauntingly melodramatic, almost weepy doo wopping is one of those songs that sticks with you, in the same way a kick to the groin does. in stark contrast to sunny beach songs about sand, surf and fun, this one is about heartbreak, memory and that feeling of an inability to move on. all of that wrapped up with a nice bow, brought to you with teenage voices from a songwriting factory in NYC. doesn’t sound too punk rock does it? nonetheless, this one is a downbeat classic in my eyes and the vocals from lead Shangri-La, Mary Weiss are soul scorching. hindsight is 20/20, Mary is credited to inspiring the Runaways, the Go-Gos, Blondie (Debbie Harry has always tried to ape the vocal style), Hole, L7, the Donnas to more modern acts like The Vivian Girls and the Dum Dum Girls. of course the Shangri-Las have been covered by everyone from the Beach Boys to Aerosmith to the Chipmunks to the Carpenters. here’s to Mary and the Shangri-Las. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fy8_38U3xLU