Over the past year or so, Gina and I have been learning to use our 1950’s era Leica M3 I gave her as a gift last Christmas. Although just scratching the surface, I feel like I am being transported. This new foray reminds me of the past: a trip to the beach, monuments, and grandparents never met, surreptitious smiles, all grainy and multi-dimensional. I have an image in mind. It’s me. I’m ten years old, caught in flight leaping over a sand dune. My hair, bleached white from a long summer in the sun is suspended in motion and thrown back as I fly. My eyes are closed. My shirt is electric blue as is the sky. Thinking back, I can hear the ocean pounding. The air is warm, dry, and comforting. When I’m really stressed, this is where I go. The picture is real. My father took it 29 years ago with his Minolta. It resides in a dusty binder somewhere amongst many others on a shelf in Virginia. I don’t need to go there physically because I can remember it so clearly. That’s the power of film. If it were a digital image, I wouldn’t have seen it. Amongst a hundred other too crisp, too perfect shots, I’d linger for a second just to get on to the next one.
Pictures were a big part of my life growing up. It seems my father always had that old 35 mm slung over his shoulder. Some of my favorite memories are of his film. The whole family would sit on the couch with the projector on a coffee table humming softly. Revisiting vacations, fireworks, cub-scout events and fish, lots of fish, my dad’s cigarette smoke would linger in and out of a beam of light. I often wonder if all my memories are of those slide shows explained to me as history or if I remember the actual events.
The pictures weren’t perfect. Sometimes the exposures were blown out, or the ISO was too low, creating a noisy patina. This is the point though. These “flaws” added something unique and interesting to the composition. They had character. Where digital provides laser crispness, film is soft yet rough to the touch, like an old pair of jeans. Here are some images we took recently. So, pull up a couch, smoke em if you got em, and enjoy.