“All styles are good except the boring kind.” – Voltaire
Let’s get a few things straight before we go any further: I did not study photography and I don’t really consider myself to be an artist.
Working as a clinical psychologist has the big advantage of me not having to please someone with my photos because I don’t need to sell them; what I do is purely for my pleasure.
With what I do, it feels like walking a thin line between creation and destruction. Some might say my pictures are of artistic value, others make a comparison between some of my results and vomit.
So what’s the reason for doing something besides taking photographs with the zone system and fine art printing?
For me it’s finding answers to the question: “What happens when….?”.
It is perhaps an unconventional way of understanding the photographic process, to go back to the point where photography was nothing more than a series of experiments. On the other hand it might be an escape from all the “rules” photography somehow seems to have these days. It’s like saying: “I’m not ok with being restricted by anyone’s sense of composition or someone’s definition of art”.
By not having total control over what happens during the process and sometimes a pretty long wait before I can see any results, I feel like getting a deeper connection with my “mistakes”.
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett
I take a lot of pictures but only like a few of them instantly. Most of thsee pictures have been taken (somewhat) in the same way thousands and thousands of times before.
The processes I use that (if you listen to some people) destroys the picture is what makes it stand from a big gray mass. It’s the transformation from trash to art, not the other way round. I don’t want to waste any shots!
Neither a single negative nor a single print should be sentenced to spend his life in a drawer.
They deserve to be unique, and if I should fail to get a result I like, the process of experimentation and discovers brought me new ideas and new insights about how different materials react. Inspiration knows no boundaries. It might be hidden behind an old book cover, your favorite piece of nature or the shelves of your local drug store.
- “What’s Mordancage?”
- “What new ways of applying liquids can be used?”
- “How to cover different areas?”
- “How will different emulsions react once brought in contact with bleach?”
- “Could you use shoe polish to alter negatives?”
- “What happens once I put it in a typewriter?”
- “Can one use mouthwash to develop prints?“
- “Could I create landscapes without using a camera?”
Those are just just a few of the thoughts running through my mind each day. For me, that’s what keeps (analog) photography young and interesting.
Let’s get inspired by the ones already mastering chaos: Matthew Brandt and his “Lakes and Reservoirs” concept, Andrew K. Thompson creating his “New Landscapes”, Ajay Malghan looking for “Collaborations with Nature” or the “unique chemical treatment” series of Mariah Robertson.
So, this is my call for imperfection; my request to you to embrace imperfections and connect with your inner child. Explore those “mistakes” despite the reactions of the “professionals” and “faultfinders” around you!
Write for EMULSIVE
EMULSIVE is all about promoting knowledge transfer across the film photography community. You can help by contributing your thoughts, work and ideas to inspire others reading these pages: check out the submission guide.
If you like what you're reading you can help this passion project by heading on over to the EMULSIVE Patreon page. There's also print and apparel over at Society 6, currently showcasing over two dozen t-shirt designs and over a dozen unique photographs available for purchase.