Analogue Ideas for a Nostalgic Future.
An extract from a recent write-up on my ‘Something to Keep’ project has just been published on Lomography.com as part of their magazine’s ANALOGUE LIFESTYLE section. Enjoy.
The full article can be found below;
‘Something to Keep’.
The only thing worrying me 36 weeks and 2 days into my pregnancy is the thought of going through with it all and having no evidence; whether it be paper, print or image, to then be able to hold as a token of my time preparing for a time that is likely to only happen once or twice in my lifetime.
Snapshots, documentary, and family portraits all share a possible ‘one-off’ chance of recording something, and photographers even make a living out of one singular image that may not have even been planned in the first instance… I spend a lot of time archiving my own work, snapping away at my daily life and obsessing over recording important details, ideas and plans in the hope that I wont forget. I don’t have a bad long-term memory, in fact I think it’s quite the opposite because I spent a lot of my waking hours thinking about things I’ve done, days gone by or people and places I’ve seen, or haven’t. I love family photo-albums, postcards, and nondescript diary entries, and truly believe a lot of our modern memories will be lost due to digital technology and the way people photograph their everyday these days… I really dislike mobile phone capture- fake iphone instant ‘analogue’ and ‘film’ photography really winds me up, and yet so many people fall trap to novelty of pressing buttons on their phones to then find the ease of creating an ‘experimental’ or ‘vintage’ looking photo… they’re characterless, emotionless and far from creating future nostalgia.
Polaroid cameras, Lomo ideas and the once ‘impossible’ ideas of PX are a lot more personal to me. I’ll take ages to decide on a particular film stock for a project- both moving image and stills and I’ll stress-out over thinking I might have made the wrong decision. There’s so much importance to be found in the colour, tones and aspect ratio of an image, and I even have trouble deciding on camera style; I’ll rack my brains, sometimes even for weeks at a time over the type of camera, even down to it not ‘looking’ right… That’s why I’ve never shot a fuji-instax, I just don’t like the cameras.
For my ‘pregnant’ photographs I knew I had to choose carefully. When people have found out about my news, many have responded with ideas that it”ll be the most photographed event imaginable; self portraits and daily snapshots fill their minds, but my plan was far from it. Other than trying to collect Automat self-portraits as much as I could (depending on spare time, £3 in spare change, and the machine actually working), I really didn’t see the point in taking a photo-a-day, to then time-lapse at the end of 9 months; the strict scheduling would get in the way of the creativity for me, and I’d see it as more of a chore over enjoyment. All I wanted was a handful of images, just one page of a scrapbook to fill and I’d be happy.
I remember seeing some stills from ‘The Virgin Suicides and I think the ‘look’ of them always stuck in my mind for my perfect pregnant-observation. I have a strong love for Polaroid cameras and wish I had a secret supply of the old film stock to keep me going, but I have always followed the development of the PX films and shot a lot of the monochrome shades in experimentation for earlier projects and I’d needed an excuse to try out the new colour tones for some time… and what could be more suiting for the snapshots I had in mind! I could be strict in the way that I’d have 8 shots per roll, and I’d hopefully be able to manipulate the stock to suit my ideas. . .
Days and weeks go by, and at this time, when pink and blue plague my mind, and as my body forever reminds me of what’s around the corner I really start to worry that this time could be lost so I finally order my stock-of-choice, and prepare one of my cameras to do the job (with a slight manipulation to the instant’s ‘exit’ to shade it from the light (and my eyes for a few minutes longer than I bare to wait.) I’ve waited weeks to finally shoot the images I see so clearly in my head- and I know that this project will never have the opportunity to be put on the back-burner for a better time.
The stock sits in my fridge for a good few days, during which I watch the sunlight change in my small set-up areas just make sure everything’s as-right-as-can-be… I barely sleep the night before, for fear that the hidden surprise inside me decides to come out and reveal itself and ruin all chances of capturing exactly what I’ve wanted for the past few months and that I’d never have the chance to pick up a select few snaps used as a record of times gone by- and to come.
I prepare a strong colour palette, swaying from pastel shades to primary desires with the pictures forever printing in my head. Self portraits are always a sensitive area, so I needed the right hand and eye to release the shutter for me, the help happened to come from ‘the other me’, so along with some basic lighting ideas, all I was now waiting for was the weather daily cycle of the sun. Two o’clock is my time and light of choice.
By the end of the afternoon 4 single PX Colour images had been shot as the main ‘set’.
I watch the images revel and reveal in wonder. The chemical reactions divide and burst with character after seconds, minutes, hours- even days after… I see separate colours appear and disappear with every blink of an eye and make sure I scan at regular intervals in case of losing something special…
The idea of archive and remembrance is a strong and significant strivation within my chosen work, it’s a torment I have to live with. I think I like analogue photography so much because of this secret power it seems to hold- for individuals as well as the eyes of the masses. I could have taken a photograph everyday for the past 8 or so months and record what could directly be seen, but this effortless and overstated approach seems less personal than a handful of Polaroid photographed images, that might not even look ‘good’ in a photographically and pristine way- but they’ll be there, ‘Something to keep’*.
Emmaalouise Smith / Brandon Jacobs
*(I always take additional reference shots and other mix-medium stills (or moving image) to go along with a series, so I chose my favourite 35mm SLR for this part of the job.)
*I was given a very special birthday present a few weeks ago, along with the words ‘Something to Keep’, so I could think of nothing more than to name my series of photographs with the same air of sentimentality.