Instigation of Character

I am notoriously careless with my film, and I have no intention of changing that fact. I have four or five rolls cut into 4-6 exposure strips on my desk just beneath he lip of my monitor, and a larger handful in an old development sleeve on the bookshelf. A vast majority of my rolls are in a cardboard box in the corner, mixed in with prints from college and some old cables. I’m sure Adams or Erwin would have my head for that.

But part of the reason I shoot film, much like the reason I buy old vinyl, is the rampant and unavoidable imperfections. having written about imperfection before, I feel the need to denote that these imperfections are caused not in the manufacture but in the storage of a medium, however. When it comes to human imperfection or personal acceptance, it’s an inherent part of the thing, and you have to take it on its own terms. With film, it’s a deliberate act on the part of the artist. I choose not to keep my film in sleeves in a nice binder not out of laziness (not entirely at least) but because I cherish the scratches and marks that come with being exposed to the elements in my room.

It’s like a new layer that changes if I choose to rescan an image. It’s akin to a secondary art form, drawing over the photo I took. I think it only ever adds to the character of the shot. When there’s a squiggly line or a long scratch on the film, it’s a reminder of the medium. Too much cleanliness, and the film comes out clean and looks like a digital image. And that’s exactly why I don’t shoot some stuff on digital. Cleanliness is absurd and unattainable, and I don’t trust it in photography. Give me a scuffed up, grainy shot of some dude in the street over a pristine landscape any day.

I’m sure eventually I’ll get to a point where I need a better storage system for my film. Things accumulate over time and the only solution for some stuff is organization, as much as I hate it. But I’ll probably still leave the film out for a bit before scanning it. Otherwise, what’s the point of shooting a fragile medium?

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