Hello again, Old Love

Cascarones (Confetti Eggs), Spicer Family Farm Party, 11/6


Its no surprise that my iPhone and I have become inseparable.  What is shocking is that I am feeling more connected to photography right now through my iPhone than any of my professional cameras.

Say what?

I know, its a lot like that thing with Hugh Grant married to beautiful Elizabeth Hurley and getting busted with a prostitute.  Kind of hard to understand.

Its practically 2011 and everybody and their uncle is a pro photographer.  The rise of digital photography has leveled the playing field through immediate feedback.  Good bye darkrooms, text books, light meters and equivalent exposure problems; hello Flickr, Facebook and Photoshop.   F-what?

Before this starts to sound like an Andy Rooney style rant, I have loved running a business through this era.  Its been exciting, change and opportunity are everywhere, and I’m truly glad to see that great wedding photography is everywhere now too, unlike the dark ages when Sam and I were married.  It has elevated the profession.  The only problem is that we are all using the same lenses, we’re all attending the same seminars, we’re all practicing the same techniques and worshipping the same “rock stars” and as a result its all looking…. well, you know.

Back to my iPhone.  I downloaded Hipstamatic and at first, found myself giggling at the two bit mime of the alternative processes that wooed me into the fold of photo love.  I rolled my eyes at dippy “equipment” descriptions such as, “The Jimmy Lens: James was cool but Jimmy could walk through flames.  This lens rocks the daylight, the nightlife and everything in between.”  I’m no gear head but even I could use a little more than that!  Resulting photos didn’t look so much like analog capture as a mish mash of  alternative processes on acid, combining Holga, Lomo, Kodachrome, cross processing, infra red and other effects into a single kitsch photo with a technique identity crisis.

But I can’t stop playing with it.  For 8 days now we have documented our son with it.  For 7 nights I have had photo related dreams, remembering the small joys of film that I thought had been long forgotten:

-the sound a dark slide makes as you remove it, like drawing a tiny sword

-the tickle of acetic acid (stop bath) on your nose when you fix a 10 gallon drum

-the excitement of pushing soapy photo flo bubbles away to get the first glimpse of 12 precious, newly developed frames (more like 10 precious jewels, 2 dudds, I was very consistent)

-sleeving negatives, slightly curly and warm from the dryer, armed with a cup of coffee, a Sharpie and a loop over a light table

-the creative community of a darkroom

As I shoot with my iPhone and wait the eternity of 10 seconds for “development” before I can shoot again, I am reminded of a time when we didn’t gun through frames, when we waited for the decisive moment as Henri Cartier Bresson coined it, when we framed carefully before ever hitting a button, when there were 10-36 opportunities to get it right before loading the next $10 roll of film.  I’m also reminded of a time when a photo was a photo, not a painting or other medium where manipulation is the expectation.  You got what you got and you owned it, good or bad, fat or thin, wrinkles, dirt, slobber, all of it.  And when I am done shooting with my iPhone and go back to see my goodies later once my son is happily occupied with something else, I remember the nervous drive to the photo lab… did that wedding turn out?  And now you know how long I have been doing this.

Are these photos gimmicky?  Clearly yes.  But no more or less than it ever was on film.  And arguably no more or less than the effect of super shallow depth of field through a $1200 super fast prime, bringing the bride and groom crisp to the foreground as the background fades into a romantic, colorful blur (see post below).  Its an argument for the ages but I just want to figure out where I am right now.  And right now I love that these memories look like they could have been me as a baby or my parents as a baby or my grandchild as a baby (if we are still taking camera photos in the future).  They are simultaneously timeless and specific, just like childhood itself, so full of both newness and universals.  No matter how the world progresses from generation to generation, we are all introduced to it the same way.  We learn how to walk.  And as parents we watch the process with absolute awe, as though it has never happened before.

These photos are challenging me to drop the expensive gear for a sec and go back to basics, to work on seeing again.  I’ve realized that expertise and gear don’t differentiate photographers anymore, only vision does.  I’m not sure what the lesson is but I know I’m onto something.  And by the way, square frame, how I have missed you!  We fit together so beautifully you and I, I was never meant to be with a rectangle…

So here it is, photo love and a random week in November, brought to you straight out of my phone.

Playground, 11/5:


Spicer’s Farm Party, 11/6 (pear shot and me walking taken by Sam)


Fun with Safety Glasses, 11/7


First Real Haircut (tragic), 11/8


Mmm, Dinner  11/9


Ice Cream Cousins  (Fiver and Jordan), 11/9, taken by Sam


The Ferry to Yorktown (Michela and Jordan), 11/9, taken by Sam


Grandpa Frank drops by, 11/10


Wagoneer, 11/10


Playground, 11/11


The Truck Daddy Made (unpainted), 11/12


The Truck Daddy Made (unpainted), b/w  11/12


Fall on the Hill, 11/13


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