High School – Roll 7

Blog, Photography / Thursday, February 22nd, 2024

These photos are all bad. Really, I had to pull up the negatives to make sure I didn’t make a mistake while scanning these and sure enough, they are all bad. It looks like I had some weird light leak or development issue because every single photo has some sort of rippling along the strip. Let’s see if there are any grains of goodness I can salvage from these.

Shooting and developing film is hard. There is a lot of math and science involved, with a touch of art, and if you master those you have a good chance at taking decent photos. But that isn’t the hard part for me. The hard part is taking photos, waiting, developing, and hoping that you didn’t screw something up in the process. For me, that is also what makes it such an interesting and exciting medium.

Take these photos. How could I, a bumbling 17 year old, know that these photos were going to come out as a disappointment? Knowing me, I probably had a few in my mind that I couldn’t wait to see what they’d be once developed. I imagine I was frustrated with the results. But also, I remember some of these photos from my portfolio and I don’t remember them being so bad. I did just glance through a stack of prints and sure enough, the ones I found were as bad as they look here. Maybe high school me just didn’t care.

Last summer, I started bringing my camera to family functions again. Naturally, my nieces and nephews were interested in what the camera was and I was happy to show them what it was. They’re all under ten and I doubt any of them ever considered that you could take physical photos with a camera. They were genuinely confused by the lack of screen and I know one of them could not comprehend that it would be a while before I finished the roll and saw what they looked like. For them, the instant gratification wasn’t there and at that point I think I lost them. They have years to grow and maybe if I keep the camera around eventually they’ll start to see what I see in this process.

It’s hard.

It’s slow.

Even if you’re good at it, you can still turn out garbage.

But it is that not knowing, the hard, the slow, the risk of losing everything that makes it so exciting. The anticipation I have for photos before they’re developed grows and grows. With the last roll I developed, there was one shot above all of the others that I really wanted to see. Once it was finally developed, it was exactly, possibly better, than I could have imagined. The hoping and wishing and framing of the photo in my head made the reward of the photo being good all the more better.

Sure, these photos suck. Not a single one is worthy of printing. But I’m glad I took every single one.

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