Photography

All of the images below were scanned from negatives shot with my Minolta SRT 102, circa 1973.
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Photography has been a passion of mine since childhood. In middle school, I borrowed my dad's old Canon camera to take candid shots for our school yearbook. Later, I spent more than a few afternoons in my nana's attic, sifting through black and white images of my Italian ancestors, fascinated by the similarities I saw in the mirror with the faces staring up at me. The clarity of those old prints made me want to crawl into the frames, breathe in the damp wool of their coats and feel the snap of winter air against my cheeks. For me, those images froze time.

My first digital camera was a birthday gift from my husband in 2004; at the time I was pregnant with our first child. As you can imagine, the ease and speed of digital photography meant that soon after our daughter arrived, we accumulated a dizzying number of images in a short amount of time. Bound only by the capacity of an SD card, shooting digital meant almost any event could be deemed frame-worthy. There was no finite roll of film to reign in our photographic enthusiasm. As a consequence, we had at least five shoeboxes filled with photo prints by the end of our daughter's first year.

One day I took the shoeboxes into the living room and settled down to sort them, arrange them, and put them into an album. But when I removed the lids I saw that many images of irreplaceable moments, all of the firsts in our daughter's first year of life were ruined: images were faded, despite having been boxed, streaks of ink dripped off the paper's edge, colors had separated. My heart hurt at the loss of those memories. I was angry at myself for trusting such important images to the whims of innovation.

I remembered the images of my dad and uncle as a toddlers. How the mischievous glint in their eyes made you wonder what they had been up to just seconds before the image was taken. The images were still crisp and clear 78 years later. I had wanted these images of our daughter's youth to be that long-lasting. I committed myself to relearning the art of photography and to capturing moments that matter on film.


No doubt, shooting on film is a slow process. Exponentially slower than whipping out my iPhone and snapping a pic. It can be a week or more from the time I take a photo to the time I get it back from the lab. Longer still if that roll sits forgotten in the camera for a while. This slowness makes the taking of photos a more mindful, deliberate experience.


The limitations of film require that I be stingy with each frame. Instead of snapping willy nilly anything in my view as I had done before, I now take my time to consider whether a photo is worth making. Whether this makes my photography better or worse, I can't say. What I can say with some degree of confidence is that when my own grandchildren (still yet decades away) take the lid off a box of my photographs, they will see the same thing I saw when I pressed the shutter.