I don’t know if you were aware but I like to consider myself a bit of a jokester. Though some might disagree (family, friends) clever little absurdities just come to me. One day several years ago I realized that the New England School of Photography (NESOP) was ripe for skewering, and I knew the perfect target. My friend Samuel Quinn was currently a student of the aforementioned NESOP and one day over a cigarette I said “Hey Sam you know what NESOP is spelled backwards… Posen’ man that’s all you guys are doing” To which Sam replied by spitting in my eye. I have since seen him do it on several occasions, and let me tell you its not the grossness, its the shock that gets people. He’s quick on his draw and deadly accurate and come on, who the hell does that outside of an elementary school or a Johnny Cash song. Its a proclivity he shares with a certain South American beast of burden. Who, when you look in they’re eyes, you understand its not a if but a when.
Anyways where was this going? Posen (Sic) man, that’s the bullshit I hate. Hipstamatic, Instagram, whatever the kids these days are doing to make their stupid photo’s worse. Step 1, spend half a grand on a miracle of modern technology, step 2 take a picture of a palm tree/graffiti/tattoo/etc, step 3 apply canned curve masks to make it look like you shot it with a disposable/flea market camera that has been sitting on the dashboard of your car for most of August with a roll of CVS brand color film that expired before the tragic events of 9/11. Step 4 revel in your creativity.
Is there anything sadder than walking into a Urban Outfitters? Yes going to the camera section and seeing the $20 Holga in a totally bitching box complete with a small book full of cross processed skater photos marked up to $150. Worse still, they’re selling like hot cakes to cute girls with faces filled with piercings. App designers high off of 90’s MTV gimmicks make even lomography obsolete by turning your IPhone into an artistic fashion accessory and flooding the market with misguided photography majors who will never get a job. Hey! That’s me too.
I think what I find most despicable is while fake Polaroid photo frames are flying off the shelves, real instant film which is a unique and powerful tool is dead or dying. People are applying ‘film grain’ to noisy underexposed cell phone shots and I’m hitting up 10 photography stores to get my daily recommended dose of medium format Tri-X (For Christ sake B&H doesn’t have any, that’s fucking scary) Its like all the hipsters came to mock analog in the hospice ward and are sending out facebook invites to the cemetery dance party once its 6 feet under.
Who is the latest innocent to fall victim to this disturbing trend? My old posen friend Sam Quinn. Now what do they say about homophobes and racists? That they usually have virtually no contact with the group they so despise. That if you get to know one gay person and grow to respect them then you’re prejudices will wither and die. So with Sam as my token black friend I engaged in a thought experiment. What if I was doing pretty much the same thing?
Step 1, I use a beautiful camera hand built in Germany before the Cuban missile crisis. Its the greatest custom made etsy necklace never sold. That’s one of the reasons I use it, a rollei or hasselblad, or speed graphic gets me more portraits than any 5d mark 800E ever could. Fuck 4g white I-things with Dr. Dre Headphones, when I don my rollei necklace every bodys my friend.
Step 2, I take pictures of beautiful women, develop them and carefully scan them to include a funky black border and the proper manufactures markings so you know I’m shooting HP5. As a nerdy side note, do you ever notice how all the faux film borders apps make up emulsions and formats that never really existed? Hah, nothing gets by me. So, while I dump thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours into it, on the web (where 99.999% of people will ever see my work) it’s pretty much indistinguishable from a good fake.
Step 3, revel in my creativity. Of course there are other reasons I work the way I do, B&W film has amazing dynamic range that when harnessed through a decent scan and an hour of photoshop gives me outstanding results. But I’d be lying if I said my whole process isn’t just another ‘creative filter’ that I use for a particular effect.
Also spending time with Sam, watching him ditz around with his phone, addictively taking pictures and messing with them I realized that its a form of play. A low stakes game where he can try different things and sketch out ideas that he just might use for something great. What he’s really doing is playing in a fertile ball pit of creativity after getting cranked on the high-fructose corn syrup of a McDonald’s soda fountain. He was already mucking about with collages and found photo’s and alternative cameras in the real world, the iphone just lets him do it on the subway, and since this play helps him make great work I say more power too him.
I was just arguing with Sam about the preceding 2 pictures leading to the next one, he say’s theres no connection, and its his work after all, but I think all these images he is constantly making are swirling around his brain and lead up to his new drip work which I love
Also its a (taste)free country, those chumps were always going to make horrible pictures and all the simulated tilt shifts in the world will never change that and it shouldn’t bother me. Any camera can take a good picture, I just think that people should use the unique properties of the format.
For example, the infinite depth of field of small sensors opens up new horizons, adding blur to fake the look of larger formats is akin to the heavy handed soft focus gum bichromate pictorialism that aped painting to legitimize photography as an art in the 19th century. Yes you can get good results, but you are not going to find anything new with your futuristic gear, so whats the point of having it? All arguing aside I just hope I can keep cranking film through my old fuddy duddy camera right alongside all the 3d lytro light field foveon sensor 41 megapixel wunderphones for a few more years.