Thursday, March 11, 2010

ph: Last Looks

The Baristas of Spro Hampden: Lindsay, Ilenia, Kimmy, Rebecca, Jess, Devlin and Jeremy.

As project hampden marches towards its final week as "project hampden", it's time to assemble our crew for one last photo shoot.

Years ago, when I used to shoot film and do stringer work, I used to tear through rolls of film. Better to burn the film and capture the image than try to selectively shoot and miss that one crucial moment. With my old Canon F1-N and motor drive, we burned through more rolls of film than I can imagine. Back then, I used to think that if I could pull one great image off a 36 shot roll then I was onto something.

Times have changed and the advent of the digital camera is both a curse and a blessing. With digital, it's much easier to delete any sort of incriminating image. Film was permanent. You had to destroy film. With digital, you just press a button and whatever you were capturing never happened. That is the one thing about digital that I dislike the most.

When shooting film, one had to carry rolls and rolls of film with you. You had to be fast and efficient at changing the rolls. You had to do it on the fly, running down the street with the camera back open, pulling out the old roll and spooling the new roll into place. Then you had to process the rolls, print contact sheets and only then could you really see if you got anything at all, or just screwed it all.

In the digital world, seemingly hundreds of rolls worth of images can fit on one memory card. No more fumbling with rolls or trying to load them properly in the rain. Which means I can fire away at high speed with little concern about changing rolls or running out of film. In many ways, digital is very liberating.

Because of this, I'm confounded by shooters I know who treat each shot so preciously, as though they've only got a 36 roll of film. For me, I'm looking for that little nuance. That brief moment when something real comes out of the subject. Many people pose or maintain self-consciousness when they know their picture is being taken, but most people can't maintain that for long. As they become used to the clicking of the shutter, they loosen up and forget that their photo is being snapped. That's when the magic happens.

Next week, project hampden becomes Spro Hampden when we open our doors to the public at 7am on Friday, March 19th. And today was the last day that I would have our crew together before the opening. So what better way to celebrate the opening (and Rebecca's birthday) than with a little Japanese beer to toast with and a few shots of everyone together?

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