Shooting Film: NYC Pride 2018

Hello All! I will absolutely be finishing my travel blogs from years ago. Its been a funny creative process for me, that trip was such a huge benchmark in my life that its been difficult to process it into words, even several years later. That’s how much of my writing is, it needs time to marinate inside my brain for me to find the right words and rhythm to paint the word pictures needed to fully express them (and work up the nerve to let people into these experiences).

BUT, it’s time to share more recent experiences because life keeps moving forwards and new things are happening! A recent transformative experience for me as an “artist” (I’m still justifying and getting comfortable with this term as it applies to me pointing a rectangle at things and capturing a moment in time), has been learning how to shoot on film. I really came into my own with photography at the height of the DSLR boom. While I put my fingers around my moms old film camera more than once as a child, when it came time for me to learn how to be a true image creator myself, everything had made the switch to digital. So when my mom handed her Minolta SLR over to me, it sat in the bag for years out of sheer terror and distrust of going back to celluloid as the digital bodies got sharper, faster, and prettier.

Recently though, in a world where everyone has an INCREDIBLY nice digital in their pocket at all times, I began to crave something more intimate. A medium that requires both knowledge and trust, that tests your actual understanding of how to create an image instead of giving you a hundred chances to get it right and making adjustments for you all along the way. And there, sitting in its canvas bag, was my answer. I dug out the Minolta, loaded my first roll of film since I was probably 9 years old, and promptly mis-loaded that roll. So I tried again, this time successfully threading the celluloid over the take-up spool and advancing to that first frame. It was exhilarating, because the first time I released the shutter, I instinctively looked at the back of the camera, but of course, there was nothing there. The tingle of anticipation that I had no idea if my image failed or succeeded was unbelievably liberating for a serial self-deprecating perfectionist like myself. It was the freedom I needed to actually create. To watch, and wait, for the perfect moment to hit the shudder. To pay more intimate attention to the light and the shadows BEFORE I hit the trigger instead of after. It also stirred up the original spark that started me on the path to image creation; photojournalism.

And so, armed with a newfound confidence that comes with “no, you can’t see the photo I just took, its film”, I headed out to one of my absolute favorite NYC events, Pride, ready to test my ability to shoot an unpredictable environment while relying on my technical knowledge to ensure the images actually came into existence after the event was long over.

The shoot was fantastic. I got to Christopher St. early and was able to snag photos of the historic Stonewall Inn. Then, I found a perfect spot right at the intersection of Gay St. (BECAUSE OF COURSE) and posted up. The next few hours were a blur of wait, frame, shoot. I missed some beautiful moments, but a few I hit the shutter on and prayed that what I saw would indeed appear after it hit the developer. But the high that came from the freedom of film was something I hadn’t felt since starting photography.

The wait was agonizing. Three days felt like three years while my film was in the hands of the lovely people at Bushwick Community Darkroom. I thought about my favorite frames every day, hoping that they actually existed. Finally, I got my digital scans emailed to my inbox and I took a deep breath.

First roll, largely destroyed by an improper rewind attempt when my shutter froze. It was a tiny bit heartbreaking, but not totally unexpected. A few photos were still intact but nothing that I loved.

But the second roll, the one that contained several images I had fallen in love with in my head, it was all intact. And I couldn’t be happier with the results for my first successful roll.

 

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They’re not perfect, but they’re there. And for me, that was a great triumph. Moments, like the motorcycle kiss and the sweet embrace of two women on the street, where I hit the shutter at just the right moment and prayed it would exist came to be. All photos were shot on the Minolta X-370 with the Minolta 80-200mm f4 lens with Lomography 100 film.

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2 Comments

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  1. I think these are fantastic! You say they’re not perfect, but that’s the beautiful thing about film, and about capturing personal and intimate moments like these; perfection isn’t reality 🙂

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