One year of EMULSIVE – a retrospective
Today is EMULSIVE‘s first birthday and what a year it’s been! Grab a drink and sit down for a bit of navel gazing, some back-patting and a taste of what’s to come.
I think it makes sense to start with a little background. In April 2015 I scratched an itch I’d had for some time. It was the inclination that I should start sharing some of my images online in a more considered and purposeful way. I wasn’t really plugged in to any online photographic communities at the time, and felt that I needed to branch outside my small network of friends and associates for some much needed external feedback.
Over the weeks that followed, this little idea began to bloom into one of also sharing the film-related knowledge I had picked up and developed along the way – gear, techniques and the medium itself.
I began thinking about other photographers, people like me who had a body of work but didn’t have an outlet to express themselves or receive meaningful feedback.
I thought about trying to create a stage, a space where everybody was equal regardless of age, experience, format and style.
I thought about the challenges I’d faced in my own journey and the frustration I’d felt trying to get answers to questions deemed too simple for forum discussion.
I thought about time I’d spent learning that many of simple answers I’d received were often far from it.
I thought about ways to promote an open and honest knowledge transfer in the film photography community in a way that wasn’t condescending or exclusionary.
These were all grand ideas and goals but please don’t get me wrong, I was under no illusion that I would be able make anything but the tiniest of splashes. Still, I wanted to try, even if I only succeeded in my first goal to simply get out there.
All that remained was a name…and it’s all a bit silly.
The name EMULSIVE was born from wordplay. It’s not smart, it’s not clever and for better or worse, I’ve had lots of queries from the cement and concrete industry as a result of using it (I’m not selling the domain, people).
I’d planned to tell you what combination of words I used to come up with the name but I think it’ll be rather fun to have you guess. Post your ideas in the comments or via Twitter/Facebook and I’ll send the first person to correctly guess the source of the name a little film photography care package 😉
A little hint, it’s two words…duh.
Less than ideal conditions to begin?
Anyone with eyes or ears knows that the film industry has declined significantly from its heyday but as technologies and consumer focus have shifted to instantly shareable media, the net effect has been to distil the industry (and by extension, the community) into something approaching its essence – film as a creative choice, film as art, film as an expression of the people and personalities within us.
Yes, there are fewer fresh film stocks to choose from and we haven’t seen a new film camera from the likes of Nikon, Canon, or Hasselblad in what feels like decades but what is left is good.
Leica are still at it, Impossible just came out with a new instant camera, Fuji are selling Instax cameras by the case load and Lomography are creating more new lenses and camera variations than all of them combined.
In some ways, this new phase of film photography is better that the golden age because we appreciate what we have left and whatever new cameras, film and lenses are trickling their way to us – at least, we should.
One year on and I’m sorry I didn’t start earlier.
…but really is all about you
Over the past 12 months I’ve made some good friends and some great friends – I even have my very own troll.
It’s through you that I’ve discovered photographic work and stories the likes of which I could never have conceived. I’ve shone many bright lights on my own photographic shortcomings and I’ve been inspired to better myself.
None of this would have been possible without you and I want to say thank you.
Just so you know, I’m not building up to a giveaway, I just want to extend a real heartfelt thanks for every little piece of critique, commentary, advice and support; and every story you’ve shared with me.
Speaking of which…
EMULSIVE is about the community, no matter what I may have said about showing my own work up top. It’s about creating a space that allows all photographers regardless of experience, age, level or fame to express their passion, viewpoints and thoughts openly and without being mocked, derided, or torn apart.
When I first reached out to a handful of potential subjects in May last year, I was very conscious of maintaining this supportive fabric and that is one of the reasons why you see each and every interviewee answer the same questions time and time again. There have been small variations here and there but the essence remains and will continue to do so in one way, shape or form.
It’s difficult to choose favorites but I do, that’s my prerogative. The ones you see here are those you seemed to have found the most interesting over the past 11 months I’ve been doing them. My list is coming later.
After nearly a year of doing them, updating the format is at the forefront of my mind and I’ll be reaching out to all of you over the coming weeks to find out what kinds of questions you’d like asked in version two.
Again, it’s all about trying to give something back to all of you who have helped me do so much this past year.
I must admit that I wanted to do 100 interviews in the first year (to July 1st 2016) and on that front, I’ve let myself down. At the moment it looks like they’ll end up being at around the ~96 mark at the beginning of July. Not a big shortfall but one nonetheless.
I sincerely hope you don’t mind the little outro text on each piece. Sometimes I have more to say, sometimes less, and I try to keep them as unobtrusive as possible.
The year behind, the year ahead
Time for a deep breath. This first year has seen me publish over 550 of my own photographs (not including those in articles, reviews, guest posts, etc.), so on the front, one might say I’ve succeeded in achieving my first goal.
I’ve written and published over 20 film reviews and experiments covering everything from Ilford FP4+ and Kodak Aerochrome, to Kodak 250D motion picture film and bulk loading 120 film. Oh, and I did a little high EI test comparing the best selling 120 format black and white films to EI 12800 and EI 25600…that was a lot of fun.
In recent months, many of you have been kind enough to let me feature your own thoughts on developing motion picture film, working with paper negatives and pushing/pulling film; not to mention the wonderful camera reviews kicked off by Daniel J. Schneider in February of this year, when he covered his Pentax 6×7.
Moving into year two, the focus will remain the same; keep talking about film, keep advocating its use, keep telling stories.
Whilst you’ll see a growing series of photosets and photo stories/essays. There will hopefully also be more articles from an educational perspective dealing with concepts, ideas and techniques. A great example of this was kicked off by Richard Pickup in his recent article covering visualisation for film photographers.
It goes without saying that you’ll still be seeing more film reviews, experiments and ranting posts…oh, and you’ll remain burdened by those almost daily image posts (this is also about my own introspection, after all).
You’ll also be seeing more Community Interviews. Lomography have already had their run and the submission window for Ilford’s is still barely open. Each one takes a couple of months to prepare but I’m hoping that you’ll see at least another two before 2016 is over and done with.
Over to you
So, does this ramble actually have a point, or is it simply an excuse to pat myself on the back? Well…both. I’ve done the first bit above and now it’s over to you.
I need your help and if you can, your continued support.
I want year two to focus even more on the community and I want your thoughts, ideas, words and pictures. Give me your photo stories, essays, photo sets, film reviews, camera reviews, thoughts, ramblings and informed educational articles.
Tell me about techniques you’ve found useful over the years and share, share, share.
It’s the responsibility of each and every one of us to shout about our passion for film. Most importantly, we need to work together and show the new generation of film photographers what the medium is about. We need to demonstrate that it’s not some outdated form of photographic expression pushed into obscurity by a digital world.
The bottom line is that if you still want to be shooting film in 20 years, you need to help make sure there’s an active and sustainable market for it. Don’t moan and bitch about film stocks being discontinued if all you’ve done is think about shooting them for the past 20 years.
There’s no marketplace if no-one’s buying, so go grab some fresh film from wherever you can (purchased not stolen, please) then get out there and shoot it.
When you’re done, please share the results.
Contribute to EMULSIVEEMULSIVE NEEDS YOU. The driving force behind EMULSIVE is knowledge transfer, specifically engendering more of it in the film photography community. You can help by contributing your thoughts, work and ideas.
Help drive an open, collaborative community - all you need do is drop us a line and we'll work something out.