I’ve never been one to photograph a subject matter or do a project. I just always shot things that I saw in front of me and wanted to capture. Sometimes just to capture it and others time to see it how the camera sees it as it has a way of bringing things out if a different way. Recently though I’ve found myself not only shooting a subject and in a way, kind of documenting it but I’m also living with it.
Some time ago my grandmother moved in and she has Alzheimer’s and dementia. I spent a lot of time preparing for her moving in where I read all sorts of information and watched all sorts of videos as I was to become her primary caregiver during the day time hours. I quickly found that all that learning, while a help, is nothing like getting the experience firsthand but the same could be said for most everything in this world.
Now I knew I would take photographs of her while here. I figured it would be something to share with other family members so they could see her living life and would be a nice way to keep up with what was going on other than just through phone calls. It quickly turned into me documenting her life and while not in full detail it’s been more than I expected. So much so that for the first time in the years I have been taking pictures I can honestly say I have a project or a subject matter. I try not to think of it that way as somehow I feel it a bit disrespectful being my grandmother and all but sometimes things are what they are.
At this point I’m no advocate for Alzheimer’s and dementia as my images have been of peaceful times. The truth of the matter is, this lifestyle of being a caregiver to one with a mind not at 100% working ability is a tough one. It’s mentally and physically exhausting. I never thought I would have to clean up things from my own grandmother that require me wearing gloves or even having to bath her because of an accident while she cries and begs me to not look. It really kills you inside. My images show none of this or any other moments of struggle and hardship and right now, I don’t care for them to. At this point in time what I document and what I share will be of good things and only share something not so good if it’s really worth doing so as part of the narrative and even then I’m not really documenting this all to the best it could be done. As such if you wish to follow along you can find some of my images posted on my Flickr gallery while I post more and random stuff through my recently activated Instagram account.
More people with an interest in photography are getting into full frame sensors. Prices have been going down and making it more affordable for the average person and this is great though it doesn’t mean they are cheap, just cheaper. Still, many are slapping down the cash for these cameras and at times the glass to go with them. There are some advantages to it and it seems that maybe there are people feeling they can ride the idea that since they have a full frame sensor it automatically makes their work better. I only base this on those I have spoken with, overheard or the way some talk in online communities and when I look at their work I wonder, “Why did they spend the money?” This doesn’t apply to everybody and I’m not trying to say the photos others take are bad but they aren’t exactly that great either, at least not good enough to justify spending the money they have on the camera they use let alone the glass they got too. It’s their choice though and it’s not like it affects me.
With that said, I myself, am not ashamed that when it comes to digital photography, I shoot on a crop frame sensor. Nothing about this makes me feel bad and I honestly have no intent to make the move to full frame anytime soon. This is not to say that I don’t shoot full frame because I do, at least when I shoot film photography. As I shoot Sony when it comes to digital I can then shoot Minolta film cameras and use the same A-mount lenses. When I do I can see a difference in how things look but to me it’s not that big of a difference and plays little in my work and how I shoot. Sure there’s all sorts of arguments about full frame and what it can do and how it’s better this or that but it’s not all entirely true, especially as the technology advances.
I could go on but I’m not here to rant. Only here to say there is no shame in my mind for not shooting on a full frame sensor and that others should feel the same. If you have the money to spend and you want to go full frame then do it. As for me, I like what I have and don’t need the latest technology in any part of my life, cell phones included.
Speaking of no shame, I also have no shame in my choice of cameras, that being Sony and Minolta. I also have no shame in my love of focus free cheap film cameras and I have no shame in myself so the photo above is a self-portrait.
Miracles can happen and sometimes I get my way. My wife never lets me take photographs of her and the ones I do have, after realizing what I’ve done, I get “the look” as she hates pictures of herself. I can understand though as I hate photographs of myself as well but recently I wanted to test some shots using a small LED light panel and asked if she wouldn’t mind helping. First image I got was the one I liked the most and after letting it sit for about two weeks and a little persuasion she gave me permission to display it. Like I said, miracles can happen.
Even if one isn’t a film a photographer there is a film that will be missed even for those who have yet to discover it. While it’s been a while since it was announced I have been sitting back taking it all in, the news that Fuji will stop production of its FP-3000B film. A peel a part film resulting in a black and white photo of remarkable whites and intense blacks will be lost and probably forever. I cannot express how much I have loved this film since the day I saw it let alone since the very first picture I took with it. As a fan of high contrast black and white photography this film gave me so much happiness and it certainly helped that it was instant. Sure, I love film photography for its guessing and waiting nature. That no matter how well you know your camera and the film stock you are shooting on sometimes a surprise could happen. Especially if you shoot toy cameras or street photography or anything that is a style requiring a moment to just come together for a split second. Digital is great and truly has its advantages but in film it’s almost like opening a gift every time a picture is developed. And while I am not one to argue film vs. digital as I love both there is a certain place in my heart for film, especially this film we all are about to lose. Even those who aren’t enthusiasts will miss it. I have friends who at times have enjoyed being able to use one of my cameras to take a picture and peeling apart the film exposing to their eyes what they just did. Losing this film makes a sad day for us all.
I have some packs tucked away in my small refrigerator and while money is tight I plan to do all I can to get more in stock so that I can enjoy it for as long as I can. Sure, the color pack film for now seems to have an ongoing life and I shoot with it as well but FP-3000B was my choice film when it came to 3×4 peel apart. I was able to take a picture and in less than a minute have the photographic print in my hand with a tonality result I found pleasing. No Photoshop, no in depth camera settings and really no manipulation to the basic photograph. Just a moment in time captured in its purest form.
There is a petition to hopefully save this film and I truly hope it is able to do as such.