About Marshmallows and Photography
Juni 17, 2016
You may observe it at almost each and every photographer: They struggle to resist the impulse to check the just taken picture on their camera’s monitor right after the shot. The picture as instant award. The desire for pleasure without delay and efforts. If the picture wasn’t as expected, just another one will be taken, and so forth, until it’s right or not. Trial and error, because it’s easy, fast and without any cost.
With film photography, however, it’s different. There isn’t any picture or any pleasure without an effort. You’ll see the results first days or even weeks after the shot. Either you develop the photographs yourself or you request someone to do it for you. There is an effort and there is a cost. You gonna invest time and money. When you develop yourself your entire body is going to be involved. You’ll prepare the chemical mixtures, you’ll touch some things with rubber gloves, you’ll smell the stinky fixer and you’ll work in darkness until your picture comes into light.
Sardinia / Street Scene / TriX
You will look differently at such pictures. Your look will be more intense. More differentiated. Your sensory system is going to be activated when you watch the negatives on the light table. Your hands move them around while doing a selection, your brain already tries to see the positives or if you use slide film, the brilliant colors will thrill your eyes. While looking through the magnifier you’ll discover so many tiny details. Even more important: You’ll analyze the pictures that didn’t make it. It’s not like clicking the delete button after watching a disfavored picture for a few milliseconds. No! You’ve engaged yourself with time and money. No one likes wasting time and money for photographs that are meant for the garbage bin. You’ll ask yourself: Why hasn’t the picture worked out? Was there a technical mistake? Did I wrongly judge the light? Is there an error in my processing chain? Or was it just a stupid composition, motive or scene? No matter what kind of mistake you made, the important point is the reflection! Trial & Error is as well a proven means in film photography but the main contrast to digital is the deliberate mindfulness in between. While judging your photographs you spend more time, attention and thoughts to the things you wanted to express. And you’re going to apply your findings at the right next photograph you’ll take. In turn a well done film photograph will give you a lot of pleasure. It’s like enjoying a delicious homemade dinner, which required a lot of preparation. You’ll eat that differently to something ordered at the fast food chain. Won’t you?
Speyer / Germany / Fuji Pro
The immediate satisfaction in digital photography carries a potential risk of randomness, superficiality and arbitrariness. For instance: Look at Internet forums about photography. There is no problem with the massive flood of pictures, that’s what the Internet is for. Rather, the pity is that discussions aren’t about pictures and photography as such. They are often just technical driven. About lenses, cameras and pixels. All about measures. The world wide web is full of technical reviews. Camera and lens testers have a boom. The industry intelligently adapted this very well and created a golden calf to animate their followers to dance around it. Vendors imply that their new digital gear, which shines even brighter than ever before, will help you taking even better pictures. A specter is haunting the photographic community, the specter of G.A.S. The gear acquisition syndrome, which is kind of compensating frustration by buying new cameras and lenses.
Getty / LA / TriX
I don’t want to demonize digital photography and this article isn’t about digital versus film. Many of amazing pictures have been taken digitally and there are so many brilliant digital photographers out there. And of course, measuring a lens’ performance can also be a satisfying hobby. But if you feel a certain degree of frustration in your digital world, a tryout of film based photography could inspire you. It may give you a new perspective, it´s multi-dimensional and determined by the many faces of the analog process, such as the film itself, the chemistry and the feel of the paper. It will sharpen your perception.
Old Railway Station / Southwest Germany / Fuji Pro
And why the heck is this about marshmallows? Well, it’s about delayed gratification and how it affects people’s personality. There was the famous “Stanford Marshmallow Experiment”. Look it up and maybe you discover some similarities to digital- and film photography 😉
Using film takes you through the anatomy of photography. It may be a way of expressing yourself. Try it out!