29 February 2024

“The photos you have in your hands are proof that you existed before the shutter.” 
- Shin Noguchi

21 October, 2023

Scotland, 2023. Kodak Portra 400. More film photos here, and digital here
It's not unreasonable to assume that 2023 won't go down as my most productive or inspired year ever. On the other hand, fiddling with rolls of film and a 50-year-old camera is easily the best thing I've done in a long time. Not because it makes me take better pictures, because it doesn’t. What I appreciate most is the unpredictability of the results (which says enough about my poor mastery of the equipment). The counterbalance to disappointment is the surprise I rarely feel anymore with digital. What the light does to the colours, a kind of softness in the greens, the hues of a reflection or a shadow, a distance to reality as I perceived it. 

In Scotland I have been a little sloppy at times, being used, perhaps, to the indulgence of digital raw files. Taking a photo with the film camera requires more concentration and time than I seem to have allowed myself.  The number of shots is limited, it has a prime lens, depth of field is more of an issue (the Z6 files are pretty much in focus everywhere, even if you don’t want them to be), and of course focusing is manual. So yes, some of them are genuinely awkward. It's not that I cherish these flaws out of some misplaced sense of nostalgia or because operating this camera sometimes feels like playing with a toy camera. No, they make me want to do better – and still be surprised.

14 August, 2023

I haven’t taken a single picture since I photographed the garden, and I haven’t shot more than four rolls of film with the new camera so far. There’s nothing left on the hard drive that is worth editing. I wish I felt an eagerness to go out and take photos, but I don’t. I’m out of ideas and inspiration, out of energy, despite a vague, undefined desire to create something.

I don’t follow anything closely on social media. I’ve lost most of my interest in what other people put online, and I hardly post anything myself. And when I do, I don’t really care what happens to it.

I haven’t spoken to T. for a while now. It’s not unusual that I don’t hear from him for a longer period of time, what is unusual, is that he doesn’t hear from me either. 

None of these things are directly related to each other, but it’s also no coincidence that they happen more or less at the same time. It’s like each one is dragging the others down with it. I started all this a good ten years ago. Perhaps they all came with roughly the same expiration date. It’s not as sad as it sounds though, or at least I’m not feeling sad about it. Not too much anyway. I trust that at some point I will pick up the camera again. I tell myself that I’m using this hiatus to think about what I want to do, about new things to try or places to go, but actually I’m not. Regardless, I know it’s going to be okay. Perhaps in a somewhat different context, without all the sharing and the conversations. I’d miss that I’m sure, but it’s a sort of natural, inevitable course of events that I’ve seen coming for a long time.

From Mallaig to Rùm, Scotland, 2013.  Coming back here hopefully means taking a break from my hiatus.

The questionnaire
10 August, 2023

When I was fourteen, fifteen years old, I spent my pocket money on British magazines like Smash Hits, Just Seventeen, I-D, The Face, etc. Some of them included a section that asked celebrities or just passers by about the last book they had read, what they were wearing, their favorite movie or band, things they loved, liked or hated. Similarily, I made my own lists to fill out. The first conscious act of trying to define myself, and see myself in the light of others. Not only was filling in a simple questionnaire enough to provide a sense of self, it was also quite satisfying to see it in writing. The lists became a daily journal, recording the mundane events in the life of a teenager who never quite fit in. I kept this journal until much later, when the need to write faded away for no particular reason. But the need for a story lingered. I think every human needs a story about themselves. To tell others, but mostly yourself. And the journal became a narrative, a life boiled down to a few dominating storylines. I never liked my narrative as much as I liked my lists, or the person that emerged from it. And now, in my mid-fifties, I feel that I’m better of without one. A narrative has the tendency to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s hard to escape from ideas that you keep telling yourself over and over again, and that you use to explain your life. That may have served a purpose, call it self-insight, but more often than not it feels like a burden. These worn-out ideas, not untrue I’m sure, are unproductive, and their explanatory power is no longer wanted.

And now I feel I should make a clever crossover to photography, since that’s what this blog is about after all, but there isn’t one. Adding a self-portrait feels appropriate though. It’s not much of a stretch to see self-portraiture as just another way of recording one’s self, but I feel that my half hearted efforts in the field are more about the challenge of exposing myself, of being seen. It's fair to say that I don’t do self-portraiture, I never know how to pull it off, and I find the whole process somewhat saddening. So there’s the occasional snapshot, without thinking much, not planning anything, seizing the moment. In this case: in a hotel room in Dax, France, on a warm summer morning in 2022, while waiting for my turn in the showers.

09 June, 2023

Hoek van Holland beach. Olympus OM1 50 mm, Fomapan 400.
Okay, I said I wouldn’t, but I did, and now I’m finally more or less at peace with how they look. Not too eager to load the camera with another roll of Fomapan though.