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I heart Ebay

More than 26,000 garden gnomes were sold on Ebay in Canada last year. I however, have spent my online auction money on something far more nostalgic:


This is a Contax 645 AF Medium Format FILM camera. It shoots FILM. Remember that stuff? This Film is 3 times the area of regular 35mm film and this camera body is roughly about the same bulk as my entire head.

I’ve carried this bad boy around for an extended weekend shooting several rolls of test film & have elicited many a comment from nearly everyone I’ve encountered. What it comes down to is they’re curious, they have nearly no idea what they are looking at beyond the fact that that is a really big camera. It’s taken a bit of explaining, which is awesome. I think there’s been a conditioning that’s taken place over the past 10 years or so. People have become so used to the IMMEDIACY of digital imagery, and the EASE of use, which is great and that’s okay and I completely understand. However, when I REALLY think about how *I* shoot , how *I* make imagery, what *I* want my photographs to speak about, to exemplify – does it really matter to me whether *I* use film – or a DSLR – or whatever? Yes, yes it does. In the past 5 or so months I have become more and more convinced I have not been true to myself, that I have failed to cultivate myself as an artist and that the medium I am truly in love with that I have mistakenly moved too far away from. I can- and will continue to- take thousands of digital images simply because of the immediacy & efficiency of it. Honestly, the camera & system is of trivial notion, I can make a good image on nearly any piece of equipment (some of my favorite images are taken with a $30 Holga toy camera that has a PLASTIC lens). But what it comes down to is that when I compare my digital images to my film ones, or even sit and edit through my digital work– well, honestly, it’s been leaving me a bit flat. It just is becoming more and more lackluster in comparison, I can’t really explain it more than that. With film, I love the whole process. The control and the quality. The depth I get from prints and that tactile quality of holding something real in my hands. I miss film.

It took me a while to really convince Matt I should scrap everything I have been working towards in order to rebuild my entire photography business shy of 2 years into starting it up from nothing & becoming a 100% film shooter professionally. The big impetus was deciding I would be putting most of the money I had saved up for a digital gear upgrade into an entirely different system, plus a basement fridge full of stockpiled film & overhead for developing costs. I came to him with a long list of reasoning, business financial models of how film wouldn’t be any more expensive (it will actually save me a lot of time- time I get to be with my family opposed to ‘working’), how it fits more of my vision & branding, and all the general Because’s behind why I wanted to ditch digital and move in a completely different direction. ‘Because I want to’ apparently isn’t the most convincing reason.

Because a few well planned & composed images will always out do hundreds of crappy ones; Because if I scan a 6×4.5 negative at 4800 dpi I will get the equivalent of about 128.6 megapixels from it & there is no kind of digital camera that can even come anywhere close to that kind of resolution; Because I want to say- ‘Do you smell that? It’s film, son. Nothin’ else in the world smells like that’ I love the smell of film; Because its a different mind-set to digital which forces you to think more; Because there is something about the colors, the texture, the dimensionality that no digital camera can come close to; Because my whole mindset as an artist, not merely a camera operator, is rooted in film, it’s how I see, think & feel with a camera in my hands & I simply know I understand it better; Because I know how to; Because Film renders better highlights & shadow details, unlike digital that simply blows out highlights & looses information in the dark areas; Because there is a much larger & far more affordable Used market for film cameras, so I can get an entire system of the top Medium Format camera for the same price as a mid-level digital body, not to mention all the cool ‘archaic’ different format cameras available for mere pennies; Because a good photograph will make you look, while a great photograph will make you feel; Because thinking & dreaming about taking pictures with film is what often keeps me up at night, too excited to fall asleep; Because I’ve decided I’m going to shoot film probably until either FILM or I croaks.

So here I am at square one. Again. It’s really less of a big deal than it may seem. I’m grateful I have the freedom to hone my artistry and move in a direction I am really passionate about. I’ll spend the summer shooting both film & digital before launching a new website & branding with a new body of work as a 100% film shooter and continue shooting digital for personal family stuff & this blog. It’ll be great.

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