“Stop taking photographs, your brittle heart’ll never bleed
Took your big head to succeed, it hasn’t been a million laughs
So stop taking polaroids, of all the things that you avoid
There are no lessons in your path, so stop taking photographs”
- I am Kloot
Its late Sunday afternoon, late February 2016 and I just finished my film 365 project last Monday. I have a bad cold and a bad coughs been keeping me awake for days. I’ve been hiding under a duvet all day listening to the sea winds whistle through the boat masts down on the beach outside, and Netflix and Spotify are waiting in the wings. I’ve been grazing on whatever I can pull together from the food and snacks I’ve already got in, and I’ve been warming my cough away with a few well timed medicinal doses of Jack Daniel’s and coke.
I’ve noticed this week that when people hear that I’ve finally finished my film 365 project, by far the most common response has been ‘are you happy’ ? Its kind of an interesting question to try to answer about something like this, particularly typically as it has been, in a tweet or Facebook comment reply. So I’ve been giving it some thought along with the project as a whole. I don’t normally do this kind of blog, but this was kind of a big project.
I have 365 photographs. I’ve looked through them a number of times to try to form some kind of point to put forward in this blog, but I’m not sure if there is one. Maybe its just too soon? All I see at the moment are reminders of a hard year, a year’s worth of sense memories both in and out of frame, memories on the full spectrum of all things lifelike, but memories ostensibly unexpressed through the photography itself in the most part, and destined therefore to fade with me if not before. So was this all just a massive wasted opportunity to actually say something real ?
There are positives of course. There have been lots I’ve learnt about shooting on film that I’ll take forward. The original aim of this was actually the fairly simple and grounded aim just to find the confidence to leave the digital camera at home, and in that respect at least it has been a success. And then there is the opportunity to push myself to finish something genuinely difficult. Life is full of genuinely difficult things we can’t finish, maybe more so in chronic ill health.
So ‘happy’ isn’t really a comfortable fit, but I’m glad I did it nonetheless, and I’d do it again…. probably.
If you are just starting out on a 365 using film here’s a couple of thoughts in no particular order I jotted down along the way, I won’t go so far as to call it advice, its your game, play it how you want
* Don’t do a film 365… seriously its a stupid thing to do with that much time and money, go spend it with the people that make you feel alright about life.
* I used the same type of film throughout to try to find something that would help hold it all together as I recognised pretty early on that it was going to get a bit random. I shot everything in landscape for the same reason.
* Don’t get too stressed out if you don’t keep up. I didn’t, not even a little bit. I finished two months late, but it really doesn’t matter.
* I tried to make it more of an art project than a photographers photography project, its just more me that way and I’m always disappointing photographers when they ask me technical questions about my photos, I would only have gotten very quickly out of my depth.
* In a good way, shooting film slows you down. Doing a film 365 just continued me further down that road.
* Shooting double exposures makes you see things differently, it makes you look for the dark shades and textures. Shoot nothing but double exposures for a month, and you will shoot better single exposures.
* I tried to make the photography mean something, to me if to nobody else. I tried to avoid doing too much in too many iconic places or around major events outside of my life. I’ve always been interested in film photography that gets its head around real life in some way – I’m not anywhere near there yet but maybe one day I’ll look back on this project as a step in that direction
* I don’t think I was ever going to learn anything too tangible from doing this ridiculous project, only that some things are worth doing just because it matters to you to have a go at doing them.
This film 365 project started in January 2015. There are times I’m not sure if I kept the project moving forward or if it did me, it wasn’t the easiest of year as they go. All the photos were shot on 35mm Kodak Portra 160 using two vintage cameras: a late 70’s Canon A1 and a late 80’s early 90’s Canon EOS10. Both cameras had previously been given to me by people getting rid of stuff they didn’t need anymore.