Over the last few months I’ve started photographing more and more works on 35mm film. My latest series in Puerto Rico was shot entirely on 35mm film as well as this new one in Valencia, Spain. It all started a few months ago, when a client asked me to photograph a session for them strictly on analogue photography. I’m a kid of the digital renaissance. Though everything was still analogue when I was growing up, I’ve enjoyed being a part of the development of all the new technologies we have today. I did own a few film point and shoot cameras growing up, but my first professional set up was digital. I never really considered analogue photography professionally, mainly due to its inherit cost, specially nowadays.
However, I decided to take my client up on his challenge/request and plunged right into it. I did a test shoot with a friend’s camera a few days prior to the actual shoot. Right then and there something clicked inside of me (pun intended). I experienced the feeling of going back to raw materials. The difference between mass production vs hand crafting a final product. It takes more time, more effort but in the end the reward is much greater. Photographing with film has pushed me to slow down and really think about what I am doing. Each frame is costing me money, so I am putting more thought into getting it right in camera. The bounty in turn is so much greater when things turn out well.
All this has gotten me to ponder quite a bit about my work as well the current state of affairs in which we find ourselves. It’s really interesting how much we take for granted. Today’s technology actually makes it REALLY easy to take a photo, any photo(or do anything else for that matter). We are constantly looking for faster ways to get an end result. Always searching for shortcuts. Buying presets and adding filters to images to “enhance” their look effortlessly. More and more we fall pray of the marketing schemes, and laziness has settled in. But where are we really going and why ? Perhaps nowhere, fast and for no reason.
Everyone is out there buying into every new gadget and gizmo. The meanest, the baddest, the most megapixels. I’m not one to judge. The truth is that I am a real life geek. Technology gets me super excited and I feel indeed proud of being part of a generation who is making so many technological breakthroughs. I am also all in favor of efficiency. If the tools get better and help us make our lives a little easier, I’m in. But if the value we put on our work is based solely on the tools used to create it, then we might have a problem. Also, how are we then spending all that “time” that we are saving ? Are we are investing enough time in our work ?
Think about it though, if we start relying mainly on the technical merits of our tools, perhaps that’s a true symptom that the artwork is in fact devoid of any true substance. We should always be able to admire a work of art because of it’s message. Because of its ability to provoke an emotion or thought in the viewer. Yet, if your first thought is wondering what camera or lens was used, that is a real problem of perception and priorities. If according to Henri Cartier-Bresson “sharpness is a bourgeois concept”, pixel peeing is a malady of our generation’s culture of excess. Bigger is not always better. (you know the whole motion of the ocean thing, wink)
To conclude, I am not trying to sell you into film photography here. I’m not saying that is better or that my work is stronger because of it. Again, it is merely another artistic tool. It has however helped me feel more contact to my work, while also boosting up my confidence level. I’d like to encourage us, to take a step back, think about our creative process and start to actually enjoy it. Let’s make sure that our works matter. That they leave a message behind, regardless of what tools we use.
To see more images of the series visit: https://www.omarzrobles.com/Valelncia-no-filter/
All images and text ©2019 Omar Z Robles (unless otherwise stated). All Rights Reserved. Do not copy or use with out written consent from Omar Z Robles.