Progress…

The Crouch

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Most of this first week of 2011 has been spent finalizing 2010. Basically, my days have been spent packing up business and personal records, sorting through piles of old books and magazines, and generally cleaning house.

Those of you familiar with me on Blogger know how often I lament about the day job, even though I’m self-employed and do actually love the work I do. While I no longer label myself a ‘professional photographer’, my job in the maritime industry does afford me plenty of opportunities to take pictures. I get to play and work with boats, I get to take pictures, and I get paid to do it. All in all, it’s not a bad gig.

Still, it’s a job and jobs do interfere with the other segments of life. And, jobs being what they are, not all of my duties are rosy fun. There’s the paperwork, and the literal aspects of being a business owner. I’m not a good administrator, human resources manager, or boss. I’ve fired myself more times than I can remember, and I’ve often quit so I wouldn’t be fired.

That being said, I’m happy with my start for the New Year. I’ve got a clean and organized office, and I’ve (so far) managed to keep pace with my editing and printing goals. New sessions are being planned and new projects created. My gallery director will, hopefully, be happy. And the day job hasn’t interfered – yet.

I say that with resignation, as I know it will and must. It is, after all, the job that allows me to do this work. The remarkable thing is that when I decided to transition fully to digital, (I say ‘decided’ as if I had a choice!), I felt that once past the learning curve, my work would become more streamlined and efficient.

I’ve been skidding and spinning out on that learning curve for over four years now. Digital has kicked my ass. I am still infinitely more comfortable in a darkroom than in front of a monitor, at least where photography is concerned. However, I am learning, and I’m doing decent work. Still, I miss film.

The experience of cleaning and packing my office hammered that point home. I pulled a couple of antique Kodak 620mm bodies from an old camera bag, and found my last medium format camera, a Yashica Mat 124G twin-lens body. (I had sold my other MF and LF – Large Format – cameras long before digital was a factor.) I found my old Canon A1 and Ftb bodies. I even came across three Holgas, one of which was converted to pinhole. Great cameras, all.

I also uncovered two of my most used, most loved, most favorite 35mm bodies: the Canon EOS 3. Both of them are fitted with power drives. I love how these cameras feel in my hands. Digital SLR’s, even the 21+ mega pixel pro bodies have always felt like toys to me. Not these.

They’re heavy. They’re beefy. They were my workhorses for many years.

It was then I realized I’ve not put a single roll of film through these cameras in over two years. Not one. And as I cradled one body then the other, I remembered: they’re heavy. They’re beefy. With a touch of sadness, I lay each one on the desk.

I opened FireFox and looked at the EBay and Craig’s List listings for these cameras. I looked at the pricing on the KEH and B&H websites. It’s inevitable, I know. They should be sold. I sighed.

The other cameras have found their way onto a repatriated corner cabinet bookshelf. But the 3’s still have some value to someone that’s fortunate enough to have had a choice when it came to film or digital. They still have a very useful working life. They can do the work if someone can provide the needed materials.

I’ve thought long and hard about my transition from film to digital. And when I say long and hard, I mean exactly that – this was a decision that took me years. I love the processes of film. Film felt more like a craft to me than digital ever will. But not having the availability of resources it now takes to keep a professional darkroom running properly, I had to make the transition or end my work with photography. However, it was much harder than I anticipated. I resented the change being visited upon me. Suddenly, everyone is a photographer. It’s the primary reason I stopped working as a pro. And I really did consider ending my work altogether.

It was then that I realized as much as I loved film and all it entailed, I loved photography and the final result of all that effort – the image – more. Much more.

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I’m still plodding through the WordPress interface, figuring things out, adding this, removing that, and thinking about those. I’ll be adding static pages, more menus, etc., but all in all, the look of things shouldn’t change too much. Please have patience. Things will settle into place soon. In the meantime, please let me hear from you. I welcome your feedback.

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