Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Perspective Part 2

Before Digital, cameras worked very differently. One could not see what he was recording on a 2" Liquid Crystal Display. There was no instant replay or rewind. Taking a picture was a supreme act of faith and an exercise in commitment. The image was captured, handed down from the eye of the camera and pressed resolutely and inalterably into the film. With Digital, every picture can be reviewed for approval, and without film being wasted, there is no sense of consequence. There is no metaphor in digital imaging. There is no "Cause and Effect," no "Reap What You Sew" moral lesson to be learned.

With film cameras, we still had the element of chance. There was an aspect of danger in photography. You could come out of that photo shoot with literally anything. There was no such thing as a perfect picture. This is much more akin to life=

Sometimes you can do everything exactly right. Fill up a whole roll of film. Drop it off at the store, come back in a week to pick it up, and find twenty-four images of fuzz and darkness. Like you were photographing Big Foot. With the film crew from "Blair Witch."

Life is like a film camera. I can set up the model, check the lighting, check my camera and do everything exactly the way I think it is supposed to work. Then Click. The picture is captured just as it was, whatever combination of light, distance, shutter speed, movement, etc. that occured at that moment has been compiled onto the rolling celluloid of the film canister and there's nothing I can do about it except just keep going. Aiming my camera, pointing and clicking. Some shots are arranged, like fruit in a bowl or a family portrait, while others are candids, a flashbulb halting the scene in the midst of the action and holding it still.

When the roll is filled, it has to be developed. I won't know what the pictures look like until I've gained some time perspective. When the photos are developed, I can see that "oh, I wasn't smiling" or "her eyes were closed" or "wow, there was a rainbow right behind us," but by then, the scene is set and inalterable. The moment has been through the stop bath and rinsed in hypo. As I proceed in life, I have no way of knowing what is coming next. But I have a ready camera, a half exposed roll of film, and stacks of albums filled with the things that have gone right and wrong in the past. Entire books of the things we call "Life Lessons" that can be pulled out and shared with others with a story beginning "Here is something I did wrong..." or "Here's one that went right..."

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