Authenticity in our Photography.

May 20, 2021

Before I start. This isn't dig at photo edits or the start of a lengthy debate on photo manipulation.


Yes, I know fully well that photos have always been edited and 'those darkroom chaps' used to do some awesome things back in the day, pre photoshop.
I know. I get it.


I'm talking about authenticity in personal photography. The beauty of its trueness, its honesty. Especially in its imperfections.
Yes, it's a guff on about film photography and why I love it. Sorry.


Now I'm not guffing on in a hipster way and please don't think of me as something that I'm not. I'm not trendy. I'm not head to toe in vintage fashion. I'm just.... A bloke loving the authenticity in shooting film.


To be grandiose, arty farty and poncey. Photography is a snapshot in time. A moment, captured by camera in a single still image. From smart phone cameras to high end DSLR systems, studio photography or combat correspondence, photographs tell the story of that moment. Forever.


There is however, something truly authentic about the perfectly imperfect and film photography tends to reflect this honesty and authenticity.
Rolls of film can stay in cameras for a long time until they are finished. They can stay in drawers and bags and pockets in ways that digital photographs don't. The fickle nature of shooting digital means we check previews and 'back up' photos, publish them fast and we know what's on memory cards from moment to moment. Photos taken on smart phones are swiped through on a regular basis when bored and instagram/facebook photos pop up to remind us what happened last week, month or year almost daily.
Picking up a camera where you have forgotten what the first 12 frames are or finding an unlabelled, fully exposed roll in a drawer is exciting. No matter if you develop them yourself or send them off to a lab. Rolls of film tell stories, remind you of days long forgotten and act as both physical and visual reminders of people, places and events. Somehow, looking at computer screens and devices doesn't match up to this tactile, emotional response to the same thing. You just don't get the journey of discovery that shooting film gives you. Yes, you can edit film photographs. Yes, you can scan and drop them into photoshop. Correct exposure, composition and more. However, there feels like no need. Negatives are perfect in their imperfection. They are real. The images seem more. The balance of something to hold as well as look at triggers more. Do you agree?


Day to day we are so used to curating our lives. Selfies. Photo filters. We chase social media engagement. We make sure people see what we want them to see. We edit out lifes imperfections. We are more concerned with what we looked like in a moment rather than how we felt, or what we were doing or who we were with. This constant edit of our lives creates a lasting legacy of inauthentic memories. We shoot hundreds of photos of something we should and could be experiencing first hand.


Now of course, we can shoot digital as we shoot film. SOOC (straight out of camera). No edits. just shoot and print. But for me anyway, the physical aspects of photography are still lost. The realness of loading film. Winding on after exposure. The loudness of the shutter. Even the weight of the camera its self in all its heavy metal goodness. It just adds to the authenticity in the image and the memory it conjures!


At the end of the day. How you capture your personal life and the lives of those around is your business. Your feelings about your feelings are your own. If in 10 years, when you are showing your kids photos from the past, that ridiculous pout you put on in EVERY photo that prompts your kids to say "your face looks funny" is your choice. But surely, pictures that are real, natural, smiley and authentic trigger greater responses to the past.


Try it. 'Keep it real'. Bypass the edit. Ignore multiple shots of the same thing. Be real. Be authentic. I'm sure your future self with thank you.


*All photos form this story are from the same roll of film. A simple, humble roll of kodak gold. It spent a year, un finished in the same camera as it was the only colour film I had. All my other cameras had BW loaded.

 

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