Moment | Working With Film

This photograph was taken in early September 2012 at the gum wall in Seattle, Washington. I was walking through Pikes Place and some of the back streets and alleys surrounding the gum wall when a family walked by me as I fiddled with my camera, adjusting some settings when there daughter, who had fallen behind them, looked ahead and began to run to catch up with her family.

As she raced down the alleyway to rejoin them, I was fortunate to be in the right spot. I saw that the little girl would be a good subject to add drama to the photograph. The girl was about 25ft away and coming toward me fast. I looked down and tried to adjust my aperture, I then brought the camera to my eye, focused on the girl, and framed the scene for only a moment. I knew that whatever I did next would be critical in creating a powerful image. I wanted to catch a powerful moment, one that would show movement in the frame.

I waited for the girl to take her next stride; the moment came, and the composition felt right as the girl pushed off the pavement with her left foot. I pressed the shutter, and within a second the girl rejoined her family and the moment was gone. There was no preview screen and no way for me
to review the image to see if I got it. It was nearly a week later when I finally saw the photographs on that roll of film. The moment that a photograph is made can be Unique. Sometimes it might last for a few minutes while taking a photo of a landscape, and at other times it may only last for a split second.

I found that when shooting with film, there were a number of physical constraints that changed how I would approach taking a picture. When I began working with the creative limitations of film I had to retrain myself to be more intent on selectively pre-editing the photographs I might make while looking through the viewfinder of my camera. Pre-editing required me to make the judgment of whether or not the potential picture was good enough for me to press the shutter. I found it more rewarding to capture photographs at the right moment, to allow the elements in the frame to come together before I took a photo that lacked the power or emotion that drew me to the scene in the first place.

Recognizing and capturing a moment might be as simple as taking a portrait of a friend and waiting for the right smile or the right look in their eyes before taking the photo. It could be capturing a climactic moment as a bird takes off from its perch or capturing a bee the moment before it lands on a flower.

Training myself to take photographs with this process has greatly
improved the number of “keepers.” I seem to find in my photo library.
Working with film cameras was an intentional step to train me to
make photographs that were more consistent and sincere; photographs
that appeared to be more deliberate at the moment they represented.

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