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For me, photography is an exercise in taking chances.  If I’m not shooting a  camera with no internal light meter  — and I won’t ever carry a hand-held one — then I’m routinely misusing expired film,  here a roll of 135 in a camera that shoots 120.  That’s not the whole story, of course.  There are the deliberate choices about shooting fast film usually reserved for night work during the day and day films at night (or shooting film period).  And about shooting straight into sun or whatever light source is available and embracing blur and distortion.  And about processing negative film as positive  or, as in this image, positive as negative.  And so much more.  It’s part of my perversity.

A lot of people can’t understand why I consciously break the rules. Not once or twice, but all the time.  Wouldn’t it be so much easier to use a digital camera, where internal mechanisms calculate aperture, speed and light balance with algorithmic precision? Or at the very least, lenses and equipment that offer the clearest and/or most complete picture of the thing being shot? My answer: it’s about capturing soul, that intangible essence of what someone — or something — is. More often than not, it comes from doing what’s unexpected, like using a $20 Holga to shoot the nervous rush of blackbirds across a beautiful but inhuman Dallas skyline at twilight.

I’m always looking for soul; and sometimes, if I’m very lucky, I catch glimpses of its presence in the work I do. Here,  in the cross-processed blue-grays and plastic lens-softened lines of buildings and blackbirds, I see the beginnings of a dream — or  nightmare — and experience the alienation that is Dallas.  But only for a moment: whatever any camera captures is as elusive as the photographic medium itself.   It’s  part of what keeps me coming back time and again.  That and the imperfections that emerge from taking chances that illuminate the pathways to soul.

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2 Comments

  1. Very nice. Although I have a question. What does “here a roll of 135 in a
    camera that shoots 120” mean?

    • Scott — it just means that I used the “wrong” size film cartridge in my Holga. 🙂


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