*this one gets pretty ranty, buckle in*
This is right outside my apartment in Prague 7 about 1 week ago. For whatever reason I didn’t have my 35mm (which incidentally broke today - I might pick up another spotmatic at a local shop), and I took this with my iphone. I’m not usually one to post cell phone pictures, or even digital photos for that matter, but I have nothing against it, and I think that’s important to say.
People love to categorize things and make lists, but there’s a real danger to it. In the blog world, one of the first rules for a successful blog is consistent content. A really easy way to make a shitty blog is to post “stuff I like” and fill it with animated giffs from parks and rec and 1,000 word mind dumps about shit no one cares about. You have to curate your content. But you have to distinguish between content and process. For me, this cat image is exactly as I would have taken it with my film camera. This is MY content.
There’s a lot of heat between the digital and film crowd, but one has to realize that film photography isn’t “content,” it’s a mode of operation. It’s like reading a letter in pen vs pencil, if the words are crap no one gives a shit what you wrote it with.
Jan Scholz is a photographer operating out of Belgium that I stumbled upon a month or so ago. He works exclusively with film in virtually all formats, including instant films and large format. He is actually a really great resource if you’re looking for differences in format and film types, but I found myself boring quickly after I got over the superficial “woah” factor of the multi-format approach. He seems so caught up in juggling 5 different cameras when he shoots that he forget what it means to make good pictures.
He’ll often post almost exactly the same image, one with 35mm, one with 4x5 instant film and another in 6x7 color (not always that arrangement, but you get the idea, multiplies). Just because it looks slightly different, it doesn’t mean I want to see it 3 times. Take a look at this post which beats the “looking over the left shoulder” pose to death.
My blog is great for me because it gives me a venue for a lot of the work that is good, but not great. Less than 1% of what I shoot ends up in my portfolio and as a result there’s a lot of wasted images that are close, but not quite there, but “good enough” for disposable blog posts. I can’t be too critical of Scholz as I understand the desire to casually share some rejects or alternates, but he serves as a good illustrative point of how important editing (as in selecting images) is. This is about using process as a crutch. He’s just an easy target (there’s also the whole objectification of women and male gaze thing going on too, but that’s a whole different issue).
I’m hesitant to call myself a “film photographer” or “street photographer,” because it instantly puts me and my work in a box thats not about content, but about process. In short, he’s an iPhone photo of a cat, and I have no shame to post it.
Here’s a quote from Gary Winogrand that is great:
“I hate the term, I think it’s a stupid term: “street photography”. I don’t think it makes any –It doesn’t tell you anything about the photographer or work, in a way. You know on the subject, I have a book out called ‘The Animals’. Call me a ‘Zoo photographer’ –- the whole thing doesn’t make any sense to me.”
More on Gary (that quote is at 0:50) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RM9KcYEYXs
More on Process - http://jmcolberg.com/weblog/extended/archives/on_process/