Another year had passed by and if I were to sum it up with a couple of numbers they would be 2918 and 744. The first is how many photos I have taken this year (well, how many still reside in my Lightroom library) and the second are how many of those were with film. So 25% of my images were captured with analogue means, although those captured on digitial inflate the numbers with mutiple shots of similar scenes, primarily family photos. Film cameras were cemented further as my tools of choice when I went out to capture landscapes and other more serious photography adventures. In the end I shot around 17 rolls of 120 film and 15 rolls of 35mm.
This year saw me spend more time than before on thinking about why I photographed, what I enjoyed about it and what I wanted to convey with my images. Clearly I like the technical aspects of using the various gear that I have, but I also realised its the ritual that I enjoy the most. I like the solitude in photographing a landscape and the ritual of the prolongued steps to capture an image. More so than ever before I insisted on photographing with a tripod to slow down what is already a slow image making process with film. I thought briefly about migrating to a large format camera to slow this down even further but in the end decided I'm not ready for that... yet. Over the past decade or so that I have been a keen photographer I never really had much consistency in what I was trying to capture. I did seem to gravitate towards landscapes but I didn't really achieve any style or deeper vision that a good capture of a beautiful location. Throughout 2019 I started to read more, for example the philosopical writing in On Photography by Susan Sontag which helped me to think about photograph ywith a different perspective, and I also greatly expanded my photo book collection. Whilst it is still possible to be inspired by Instagram, its hard to beat the impact of leafing through a well printed and curated book. Paul Hart's books Drained and Farmed were two of my favourites for the year and inspired me to visit East Anglia - a place I will need to spend more time in the future.
Dedicated photography trips were few and far between, understandably with the growth of my family at the start of spring. But I did manage to plan around family trips to visit some great destinations such as the Olympic Peninsula in Washinton State and I got some fresh inspiration in Gran Canaria - a place that is very overlooked as a place outside of package tourism.
Gear aquisition syndrome was prevelant again this year but at least it was more focused on the Bronica SQ and Nikon systems that I plan to keep for the next decade at least. Whilst I don't view them as an investment I do think prices will continue to rise for working gear (although likely not at the rates seen over the past couple of year) as long as film is manufactured, and so the jusification of "I might as well get this now rather than later" won out. The analog niche today will likely persist as digital takes over more and more aspects of our lives. Adding a Rolleicord to my collection has been a great way to get a more portable medium format camera in particular, and taking the opportunity to upgrade my film scanner to an Epson v800 should make scanning somewhat less burdensome than it was with the v600 with its lower capacity film holders. The Nikon Coolscan LS-4000 despite producing some great scans has unfortunately has turned out to be a bit of a dud - it appears the firewire chip has failed but fingers crossed it can be repaired in 2020 when its turn in the repair queue comes around.
Aims for 2020:
- Limit gear purchases to essentials only
- Go on a couple of solo photography trips (candidates include Faroe Islands, the Highlands of Iceland and Wales)
- Fix up this website to be cleaner and more consice. On a technical level evaluate if a self-hosted installation of the seemingly abandoned Koken platform makes sense for the future. Squarespace and Format appear to be good alternatives, but I'm loathe to migrate all the content over to a new platform and then be locked in to them.
- Work on developing a style and consistency
- Make sure I'm still having fun rather than taking it all too seriously