I’ve realised recently that I don’t share my photos enough. I show pictures of my daughter to my family, but other than that, I have basically no audience. Almost all my spare time is related to photography: taking pictures, developing film, scanning film, editing, listening to podcasts, reading books & articles. But this all happens inside a vacuum, a bubble that I’ve created for myself. Though part of me agrees with Hamish’s idea that the process is as important as the results, that I could potentially take pictures without ever really seeing them, I’ve recently come to see the whole thing as being pointless if I don’t show them to people.
The main reason for all this is simple: I have no confidence in their value. Those photos of my family aside, I find it extremely difficult to be confident in any meaning, quality or interest that the photos could have to anyone. I’m simultaneously craving at least some kind of validation (internal and external) to give me confidence in my photos, but at the same time too scared to publish them. So what can I do? The answer seems pretty obvious: find ways to push through, find ways which make publishing easier.
This is where Hamish’s #FullRollFriday comes in. As soon as the first article was published back in April 2020, I saw the potential it had for someone like me. It allows someone to publish photos, without putting too much pressure on the individual images. We all know that a roll of film will never produce 100% keepers; some of the images will just be preparing for the next one, some will be duds, some out of focus. One could quite easily argue that this reduces the overall impact of the photos, and I’d tend to agree…
You often read arguments about whether the process around creating a piece of art should be made available to the public or not. Should we be seeing sketches an artist made for a painting? Photographer’s contact sheets have become widely available and are often fascinating, as they show the process, they give context to some of the most famous photos. The problem with showing the whole roll is precisely that, it puts more emphasis on the process than on the final image (this ties in perhaps with the fact that Hamish started the FullRollFriday, it chimes pretty well with the overarching themes on 35mmc). But for me, it’s definitely worth it if it means I feel able to publish some of my work.
Une entrée en solitude (Entering solitude)
This all brings me to my own roll of film. We – like so many other deserters – had left Paris a few days before the initial nationwide lockdown was announced. The prospect of however many months stuck in our tiny flat with a small baby was beyond us. We were lucky in that we come from the countryside and were therefore able to go back to our families outside the city.
To have a space of our own, we decided to stay in my partner’s grandmother’s house, which has been pretty much empty for years. People will occasionally stay there for a few days over the summer, but other than that it is empty most of the year round. The day we arrived, I walked around the house opening shutters to let some light in. I was immediately struck by the material decay, the abundance of religious symbolism, and how the two fit quite well together in modern France. In a bedroom upstairs I found an open prayer book on a bedside table with the title “Une entrée en solitude” or “entering solitude”. Sometimes things just sort of fit. I decided straight away I was going to try to photograph a whole roll of Delta 3200 in my Mamiya RZ67 around the house.
So, what do I think of my photos? Well, it’s a decent start. I’m relatively happy with how they came out. I now really want to go back and try to flesh the whole idea out. Firstly, there’s quite a few more photos to take around the house, especially of some of the religious symbols. Secondly, I’d like to have a better go at some of these compositions. I’ve recently acquired a wider lens for my Mamiya (65mm) which I think will definitely help me get a better perspective in some of the tighter areas in the house.
The main objective though with this project was to help me get my photos out there, somewhere outside the confines of my home. In that sense, it’s a success, however good the photos ultimately are. It’s a step in the right direction.
I hope you enjoyed my thoughts, and especially hope you enjoyed some of my photos. I’ve recently started posting to my hitherto unused Instagram account. Feel free to check it out if you want to.