On shooting film in 2018

I love new experimenting and using new products. 

Endless possibilities where technology can take us. 

The first time I tried an Oculus VR headset was transformational. My car has some primitive autonomous driving capabilities but my mind is nevertheless electrified at the possibilities. My iPhone still feels like some sort of miracle. 

But I shoot film to make photographs that I care about. In 2018. 

First, before I write up why I shoot film, let me get all reasons not to shoot film these days. 

Film is expensive. It just is. 

Shooting film requires either processing and scanning at home or working with a pro lab. The former is super time consuming and I just don’t do it. The latter is expensive and can be frustrating at times. It’s not always easy and mistakes can drive you mad sometimes. 

It can be cumbersome to travel with. When I travel I bring along color film and black and white film. I often bring along 35mm and medium format film. And I always bring more than I need because I once ran out of film on a trip and that feels awful. Carrying the film is only part of the story. You need to take care of it. You can’t leave it in a hot car, and you must carry it on planes (do not check it in, the X-ray machines will fuck it up). 

And film cameras are often old and need servicing from time to time. Not always but my favorite film camera has been in service for a month and just came back today. Digital cameras today are all amazing.

But I still love film and couldn’t imagine making photographs without it. 

I love the feeling of being in control of the photograph. How I want the light to impact the image. Am I going for super contrasty or moody? Clean or grainy? Black & white or color? I need to make all these decisions before I compose, before I focus, before I press the shutter. Sometimes it can take a second and other times it can take an hour. 

Film photos are unique. The grain is different. The depth is different. The colors are often different. The warmth is different. The texture is different. One roll is often different than the next. 

Film cameras are a work of art. They are beautiful to hold and operate. My hands know where to go. My favorite film cameras don’t require batteries to operate. 

I love the way the process feels. I love taking the film out of the package. I love it takes me a little while to load the film. Rewinding a finished roll feels like an accomplishment. Sending the film to the lab fills me with possibilities. Getting the scans back is like Christmas morning. 

I love the slowness of film. I don’t spend hours post processing my photos. I don’t sit in front of a computer on vacation messing with thousands of images. I  make photographs and when I’m ready I send them to the lab. 

The film community is alive and is so positive. Less time talking about gear and more time sharing creative work, ideas and experiences. I cherish all the friendships in this community. 

Film photographs are not perfect but there is something so special about falling in love with the imperfection. 

I don’t know if I’ll be shooting film for the rest of my life, but I sure hope so. 

Peru, Part I

We made our second trip to South America last month with a visit to Peru.

We began with a visit to Lima which is a the capital of the country. Lima is a big city, with a population of 10 million people. It is a beautiful old city and sits on the Pacific ocean. We spent a few days checking out the historic sites, exploring the Magdalena Market, and wandering the streets. We had an amazing lunch at Malabar. If you go to Lima, you must eat at this place and if possible meet Chef Pedro Miguel who is an inspiring chef and a lover of food and Peru. I also recommend exploring the art museums in the Barranco district. The MAC museum is quite small but very interesting with thought provoking work. Unfortunately we ran out of time and didn’t make it to the MATE.

We left Lima (sea level) and flew to Cusco which is about 11k feet above sea level. We could feel the heightened altitude immediately after stepping off the plane. We all had altitude medication, and our fair share of coca tea which helped.

We spent the rest of the trip in the Sacred Valley, the city of Cusco and exploring Machu Picchu. Some of my favorite memories: visiting the students at the Sol & Luna school, mountain biking through the little villages outside of Cusco, hiking to the top of Machu Picchu Mountain (2 hours up and 1 hour down), & wandering the San Blas streets in Cusco.  We were very fortunate that the weather was so kind. Our trip took place during the rainy season but we only an half of day of rain.

Peru is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. The culture, landscape and people are beyond incredible. I hope we can make another trip to Peru in the future.

Additional photographs here.

(all of the photographs were shot on 35mm and medium format Kodak Portra 400 film, developed and scanned at Indie Film Lab).