Enjoying *Most* of the Process

There are multiple reasons I started shooting film again, but the biggest reason is that it slows me down and makes me more present in the moment. Shooting film is inherently a slow process, and since I started developing and scanning at home, it has become even slower. I’m learning to set aside an hour or two a week to develop film that has been sitting idly by for sometimes two months before I get to it.

Shooting is obviously my favorite part of the whole experience. Developing only takes about 20 minutes from start to finish, hanging to dry takes about two hours. I find the process of developing very therapeutic; I am fully engulfed in the moment, and it feels like my own form of meditation.

After the film has dried, I get to cutting it up into scannable sections to hopefully make it a little more efficient.

BUT, scanning is awful. It’s painfully slow, the software is buggy and reminiscent of early 2000’s Internet Explorer. It’s like someone designed the software back in ‘01 and failed to ever update the interface. Trying to edit within the scanning software feels like walking through the woods on an unknown trail, blindfolded. You take one step off the trail, kick a rock, trip and fall into a ditch. I’m only being slightly dramatic. Pull up the histogram to edit the blacks, mid-tones, and highlights, and what you see happening to your photo doesn’t make any sense compared to what you’re doing to the histogram. It’s incredibly inaccurate and doesn’t loan much confidence in the scanning program.

Epson V750 - Nothing PRO about it.

Epson V750 - Nothing PRO about it.

Another issue I had with scanning was the inability to leave the computer and software to run and go do something else. If you didn't keep clicking on the screen between every photo, it would stop. How incredibly efficient. After digging through a couple pages of Google results, I actually found out there is a solution to this stop-go issue I was having. I had to download another file which was separate from the main program, restart the whole software, and then it would scan continuously like it’s supposed to. I have no clue as to why they chose to keep those things separate instead of just including it in an update. But again, early 2000’s design.

Scanning does go quite a bit faster now, but it’s still the worst part of shooting film. If I have a professional lab do the scanning, I have to pay at least $20 a roll, and that adds up quickly with how much I shoot. Scanning at home is the more economic option, but my $300 scanner doesn’t quite give the quality that the professional lab’s $15,000 scanner is capable of.

If I try to push the scans too much while editing afterwards, they get some gnarly lines going up and down the frame. Everyone loves seeing lines going across the frame and spending 30+ minutes trying to edit them out right?

Unedited scan from an unnamed lab in Arizona. Notice the vertical lines across the entire image.

Unedited scan from an unnamed lab in Arizona. Notice the vertical lines across the entire image.

Any attempt to make the scanner do what it’s designed to do, and it’ll wreak havoc on the scans. I tried to apply the “Digital ICE” function to this picture to have the dust, scratches and other blobs removed from the photo. It didn’t work in the least bit, and honestly I think it made the entire scan worse than if I had kept it off like usual. These scans were a cluster from the beginning, as the lab I went to in Arizona mailed back the negatives on top of one another, which in the film world is a huge no-no. They stuck together, ready to rip off the emulsion from the negatives.

Thing is, just because there’s one awful part to shooting film, doesn’t mean I’ll stop anytime soon. The majority of the process is a blast, scanning just sucks. I leave the negatives under books for a couple days to help flatten them out anyways, and I’ve found myself doing that more often now that I’m scanning at home. Maybe one day I’ll be able to invest in a $15,000 scanner, but that ain’t happening for a long, long time. Until then, I’ll keep dealing with this crap shoot of a system.

Whether or Not to Social Media

I’ve been going back and forth with myself for months on this months. Countless articles are posted on websites like Petapixel, Fstoppers, and Phoblographer every month regarding the benefits and cons of social media. The information is there, and sometimes it’s quite overwhelming. It sucks up all your creativity! It’s free advertising! Trying to garner appreciation from the masses is mentally exhausting! Think of how many people could see your work!

These things are all correct, which doesn’t make the decision any easier to make. Ask anyone who posts consistently to Instagram about why they do it, and most of them will have a different reason. Some are trying to beat Instagram’s supposed algorithm. Others are trying to keep their online audience engaged. Personally, I was trying to gain followers, so more people could see my work.

I tried a number of different things; posting every day, every other day, every three days, once or twice a week, running ads, numerous hashtags, popular hashtags, targeted hashtags, and lastly, themes. I saw few benefits or changes between these different strategies. People would follow me, and then unfollow me the next day. My followers have hovered right around 650 for the last six months. So, six months of carefully curated posts, paid advertising, finding the “right” hashtags, and nothing to show for it.

I was trying all the right things, so why wasn’t my audience growing? I don’t know, and honestly, I’ve stopped caring. The last few weeks, I’ve slowly posted less and less, not because I didn’t have content, but because there’s more important things to deal with than posting images to social media.

I’ve taken breaks from social media before, usually just a couple week stints. It’s a mental release, and a refocus for me. Trying to manage a social media page is not something I enjoy. The likes and comments are temporary ego boosts, and then lead to disappointment since they couldn’t get more.

This past Wednesday, I deleted Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat after having a really stressful week. It’s insane how much time is freed up when I’m not constantly scrolling over feeds and sending snaps back and forth. I’ve had a lot of work to catch up on since getting back from my trip, and I’ve finally had the “time” to do it. Developing and scanning film are time intensive tasks, followed by the editing, and storage of negatives and saving of the digital files. I haven’t even started editing photos, and I still have a ton of scanning to do.

Once I get them all edited, I can start adding them to my portfolio, sending certain ones off to get drum scanned, and adding those to my store to be purchased. It’ll honestly take a few weeks with my busy schedule, and it would take even longer if I was still snapping and posting away.

This social media break might not end anytime soon, so if you’d like to follow along with my work, you can always check in on my website here, or join in my mailing list (once I figure out how it even works) and emails should go out with updates to things! I’m going to try and blog a little bit more too in my new free time.

So, until next time everyone, thanks for reading if you made it all this way.