Photography is the medium of light, though I think light is allowed to command itself most in black and white film photography. It can claim just as much presence, if not more, than the objects in the image themselves. And why shouldn’t it? We do so much to try and control light, easily letting it in or shutting it out. It seems like a weak, undemanding force that we have learned to harness and command. But light is one of the only ubiquitous forces that will never fail to envelop and penetrate our ever rigid, boxed-up world. A hyperobject. No escape, no control, no eradication, everywhere.
I’ve never taken a break from photography, but about two years had passed since I’d practiced analog. It’s extremely time-demanding, but the nostalgia of its rhythm has made it easy to fall back into step. Though in history analog photography seemed more a discovery and digital an invention technological invention, film actually requires more attention and precision of the artist. Some aspects feel like magic and others require precisely determined steps down to the second. It’s capturing existing light, then chemically processing the vessel on which it was captured. Then it’s a second capture on to paper, with artificial light projecting the image of the reflected real light, then chemistry again. And even then, it’s measurement and repetition and a long, fumbling dance by the artist to create one image. I often find myself in the same mind as those who aren’t involved in the art world: why would anyone even choose to use film anymore? And yet I can’t explain it; it is something more than digital could ever be. More than what my eye’s image could even be. And for that, it’s worth the tedious.
Above are samples of the black and white analog work I’ve been working on these past couple of months. My focus has been no theme in particular, while the group of us is getting a handle on the darkroom and all its mechanisms. And yet, each of these prints feels incredibly precious to me. The process of shooting was not beyond what I might do when shooting digital. In fact, many are even more snapshot-like than I’d normally create. But the quality of light, the detail captured, the immense amount of time and care I had to put into each roll of film and print – the work is elevated. Something about it feels magical and beyond anything the human hand could create with technology. It has the preciousness of something my own hand could never create, like it was born from nature itself.
(I know my meditations sound super dramatic and… they totally are. Just thoughts. But either way, if you’re interested, you can click each image to enlarge and explore~)