Film, failures and starting over

Where do I even begin with this post?

I’ve known for quite some time that there has been something missing in my photography life…both personal and professional. Those of you that know me and know my history with the art know that I started in the dark room with black and white film. And that experience lead me to become a photojournalist for my college newspaper and ultimately sealed the deal for me with photography in general. Fast forward almost seven years to the start of my wedding business….and everything is digital…everything. And it’s only been in the last year when I’ve realized that I don’t like it.

I could see my wedding work getting too trendy, too cliche. I was taking the photos that were expected of me. And why? Because a high profile wedding blog says “take cute pictures of shoes!” or “just have them kiss by the lake.” (Any of my friends who were at Mystic this year will totally get that Roberto Valenzuela joke) Anyway….I felt like I was just going through the motions and not slowing down to really ask myself, “why am I taking this photo?”

And maybe this whole need to slow down is just the result of what’s happening in my personal life as well, but I feel like it needs to be said and it really needs to be done. I need to slow down. I need to relax. I need have less clutter in my life. I need to give myself permission to not do what the “industry” is telling everyone they should do. Really…I just need a change of pace.

So I decided this winter that I was going to do that with my personal work. I haven’t shot a digital image on my big, bulky camera in months. And honestly, it feels great!! I have a roll of Ilford HP5 400 inside my little Nikon FM2 and I can’t wait to finish up the roll and see what has transpired in my life over the course of the last couple months (yes…sometimes it takes me that long to go through a roll…don’t judge me). And as I start to take more meaningful photos in my personal life, it is my hope that this will also translate into my wedding work. Now, I’m not saying that I’m going go cold turkey with digital and switch everything over to film; I’m not there yet. But I’d like to start incorporating it into my professional work. I purchased Jonathan Canlas’s Film Is Not Dead book and I’m doing my homework….one page at a time. In the future, I would definitely like to attend one of his film workshops. So I bought my first batch of professional film and this Christmas it was all I shot. I shot two rolls of Kodak Porta 400 at my parents house and eagerly mailed them off to Richard Photo Lab in California. The whole time my film was on the west coast, I had this awful gut feeling that I messed it up horribly. I even wrote the RPL staff a note with my film that said, “This is my first go. Please don’t laugh if I screwed it up.”

I screwed it up.

Something had happened with my camera and I didn’t load my film correctly (remember, this camera is fully manual). One roll was completely blank and the other didn’t advance properly in the reel so every frame had two or three clicks of the shutter on it. And, I definitely overexposed a little too much. I was bummed, but at the same time…well, that’s the beauty of film. You don’t always get it every time. I know I have a lot to learn and I’m excited to keep trying until I get it right. The funny thing is that even though these pictures were totally botched, some of them came out really neat! So, here I am, sharing my failures with you, my mistakes, the things I need to get better at in my life.

Slow down, take your time…and check to make sure your film is loaded properly. This might just be my new, crazy mantra for life.

Maine wedding photography practicing with film

film photos of my husband

35mm film in the woods of Maine

Nikon FM2 with Kodak Porta 400

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where am i?

Anne is based in Houston, Texas and spends summers in her home state of Maine.

She is available for weddings and portraits there and beyond.