As some of you may know, my wife and I recently bought and moved into a new house. When you move, things disappear and things can also reappear. The latter phenomenon recently happened to me when I found a roll of unprocessed 120 film in a box that it shouldn’t have been in. I sent it along with the rest of my film from out east to be processed, not knowing what would appear.
Then, I forgot about it.
Until my film came back and I was looking through the images. Low and behold, one roll stood out. Among all of the other shots of the East Coast, there was a roll that didn’t fit. As they say in Sesame Street: “one of these things is not like the other.” There were three frames from our trip to Portugal in March 2012, and frames from our brief spell in Fargo, ND.
Obviously these were shot on my Holga, which my wife carried to Portugal and used (but not very much). She must have also taken the other shots since I’m in virtually every one of them. That’s strange–I can’t think of too many photographs in which I appear, as I’m almost exclusively the one making the images. In fact, I can scarcely recall a photograph of myself at all.
So what does this mean to me?
Well, the photos aren’t great but they are memories. And I guess that’s what photography, at its most base, is really about. Look, I like photography for photography’s sake as much as anyone, and I like photographic gear, and looking at images too. But memories are what photographs are about, I think. It’s about remembering things and holding on to things that we’ve seen/done/experienced.
So why show these on the blog? Well, I find it interesting that one can “lose” images and then get them back again. I find the permanence that this indicates rather alluring; on one hand, film requires the extra steps of processing (and printing), but on the other hand, it offers a more lasting version of what’s captured. Now I know this is controversial, since many people have disagreed with me before about how digital technology is so good now that people don’t lose images on hard drives anymore when the fail, or that with a good backup and filing system they are just as good as negatives.
Well, I disagree to an extent. I think that technology is indeed good nowadays, but I still trust the permanent thing I can hold in my hand over the digital thing that I wouldn’t know how to access if my computer broke.
Although I am continually lured back into the digital realm (and aren’t we all, really?), I don’t think I’ll give up on film. Little treasures like this lost roll have confirmed for me that film still has some magic about it. I hope that someday, when I’m dead and gone, my son will find a shoebox of prints, or a binder of negatives, or an unprocessed roll and remember us, and the times we had together.
And I think that the little square of magic he can hold up to the light will have a stronger impact than a file on a hard drive.
Some things that are lost can be found again.