I have not posted a blog in a while – a combination of too much going on at work, perhaps a bit of laziness, and some travelling has conspired to make it impossible for me to type so much as a single word for the website. But, I am back home now, work is beginning to wind down for the holidays and a calendar with a few free weekends in it means I don’t really have any excuses not to do some blogging. I am of course beholden only to myself, lest I suddenly develop a huge and devoted readership waiting for my next post – but I like writing, and I suppose that mythical readership can certainly never appear with no blogs to read at all.
My travels were a big step photography wise – having sold all of my digital gear, I took only one film camera – the Ricoh GR1, which I’ll be reviewing at some point soon – and a few rolls of film. It is not the first adventure I have been on with nothing but a 35mm camera, the Highland book is the result of just such a trip with nothing but an ancient fully manual Pentax. However, on that trip I was with people who travelled (and were fully capable of taking far better pictures than myself) with a DSLR. I knew that even if I messed up, there would still be loads of great pictures of the trip.
I had no such luxury this time – it was 35mm or bust, and this meant I went with enough film ensure that I got some good pictures everywhere I went. Returning home, two days of development later, and even more scanning, I had 168 photos of my travels. The thing is, I was using the camera differently, my composition is much less considered, I wasn’t moving too much, and I have pictures of things I’d never even look at back in London. In short, my hit-rate, which is never exceptionally high, isn’t very good across these photos at all.
There are some photos I am proud of, and some of subjects that I think are especially cool, but I think I have got more good shots from a couple of rolls of film in some of the distinctly unpromising places I have visited for the end points project than here. My first response was to wonder whether there is in fact a place for digital, for this sort of ‘snap-shot’ photography. The ‘delete-able’ and ‘one million shots on one SD card’ nature of digital lends itself to creating hundreds of images without worrying too much about what you are shooting until you get home.
An example of the sort of pictures you end up taking when there are no constraints on taking pictures – circa 2013, but for some reason still never deleted
I have thousands of digital photographs stored up, some folders have more pictures from a single day out at the zoo than I took across an entire two-week holiday, and honestly, I look at about 5% of them, and I am proud of even less. Actually, my holiday hit rate was pretty much the same, perhaps even better than it would have been had I taken a digital camera. What I keep coming back to is what these pictures are really for? Are they simply there to remind you of your trip – in which case, do they even need to be great images, or are they there for the same reason I take most of my photographs, to create something beautiful/inspiring/interesting/whatever?
Really, the good, considered, well-shot, not snap-shot photograph can probably do everything. My best pictures of Sydney opera house are not the ones that are immediately, obviously, that building, but those images still serve as a reminder of the tour that I took of that building, and the time I spent there. Good pictures will always be good pictures that you want to share, whereas something you shot without even stopping, of something that might be vaguely interesting, will probably never get beyond a forgotten folder in a hard drive.
So this is a commitment. I am going to maintain my devotion to 35mm, and I am going to shoot less film. If I see something worth shooting, I will give it the time it deserves, and hopefully, by showing those subject respect, this will mean that the images I create will be respectable. I still might make sure there is someone with a DSLR with me in the future though.
When holiday photography goes right – at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne