Dear Benice,

If I’m not in a big city in Asia shooting Cinestill film, am I really doing something right?

Gudni Thorinorinsson

Dear Gudni,

Thank you for getting in touch with your concern, shared by many I’m sure. Such a simple question on the one hand, but a hand that goes right into Pandora’s box.

The Cinestill 800T shot at night in a strikingly lit Asian City phenomena, or the Overplayed-Runner look as it’s also known, is just the most recent victim of the oldest problem in all creativity; the search for our own style. We all want to be special little snowflakes, to bless the world with hitherto unseen artistic genius, but it’s bloody hard, and deep down in our souls there lives a nagging voice telling us that maybe our unique voice might just sound a lot like an asthmatic tomcat getting twanged in the testicles with a ruler.

It’s not just individuals who have these fears, it’s any entity putting content out into the world to be consumed, up to and most certainly including photography blogs, influencers and the few remaining magazines still clinging onto the edge of existence by their ragged, bleeding fingertips in the vain hope that humanity shuffles back just a little from the brink of utter aseptic indifference to real world experiences.

As photographers, can you imagine how played out most tropes are after nearly 200 years of constant farting about? How many more blog posts about lighting a portrait, or street photography, or making a unique landscape shot does anyone need to read? Because another 10 of each have probably been pumped out today already. It’s even worse as analog photography nerds because you don’t have kindly corporations constantly pumping out a never-ending spew of infinitesimally iteratively improved equipment while simultaneously spending millions on advertising to convince us all we should give a rats arse.

So what happens when you want to get people to look at your work, your blog, your Youtube channel, your Tinder profile – to listen to what you have to say, but don’t actually have something to say, or worry that people will either not give a shit, or worse yet let you know in detail how much you suck? You look for the new hotness and glom onto that instead.

No surprise then that when something cool and new does come along, everyone and their rabid Dingo who wants some eyes on is going to make a land grab. The Overplayed-Runner look ticked so many boxes it got carpal tunnel syndrome – initially available to a limited audience? Tick. Expensive? Tick. Perfect for exotic Urban travellers? Tick. Makes the world look like a cool neo-noir future dystopia, instead of the vomit-stained current dystopia we’re all living in?

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Big. Old. Tick.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as happy to see a blue-tinted illegible neon sign as the next woman, but what started out as one person singing their shiny new Vangelis-esque song into the night has turned into cacophony of entitled millennial travellers yelling “LOOK AT ME DAMMIT!” at an increasingly uncaring world.

And therein lies our salvation and damnation. The real tragedy here Gudni isn’t that you aren’t shooting Cinestill in an Asian city, it’s that you’re much too late coming to the realisation that you should be. Just as Blade Runner 2049 slips from our memories leaving us with nothing but the vague feeling that the nice young man Ryan Duckling might really be an emo android from the future, so to must the Cinestill fad pass to make way for the next new marvel of the age.

The moral of this story, because there’s got to be one somewhere, is that while a hell of a lot more people might want to listen to a quirky cute Ukulele cover of a Justin Beeper song than to a cat being smacked in the nuts with a ruler, there are a million identical floral dressed Usinda the Uke players out there, but only one Geoff: the cat with sore bollocks. And one day the world will come to its senses and realise that the only true purpose for a Ukulele is to beat it’s owner to death and then use it for firewood. Be your real true you, even if you’re a bit shit and nobody, likes or cares about what you’re doing.

Incidentally, in case the above has failed to inspire you to pursue your own creative vision and you would instead rather take the elevator ride sideways onto the next bandwagon, you might want to know where to go. The answer is of course Kodak EKTACHROME, a film which quietly plodded along for many years doing an absolutely fine job most photographers really didn’t care about, got discontinued to zero outcry from the community and is now BACK! And because it’s now both new AND classic, people who right up until they were told a thing they never wanted in the first place was going to be delayed, couldn’t have given less of a shit, are preparing to storm Rochester and take the film by force.

Let the slow Slide into creative bankruptcy commence…


~ Benice

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Benice Shofil

It's Benice, not Bernice. Let's get that straight. I was born in was known as Czechoslovakia in June 1932. My parents were immigrants who named me after the area of Prague where they first met. I studied in both Prague and Leipzig, and spent 50 years working...

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