For a brief moment, no more than three seconds, I forgot who I was. Staring at the chocolate gelato looking waves of the river, my name left me. I was simply a homo sapien looking at water. Purely primal. I didn’t have a name, job, girlfriend, house, debt, hunger, or history. And then it was gone. I became a teacher on a photography walk. I regained a mortgage and my name. But the river was beautiful. And worthy of my time.
Have you felt this way, dear reader? Is this common? When is a time you lost yourself? Have you had your identity drown in the river or burn in a campfire? This experience should be mandated by law. It grounds us and reminds you that this world is bigger than you. Everyone and everything has a story and a past. Although we often find ourselves acting as the main character in our own play, remember that you play a role in everyone else’s story.
I have recently picked up film photography. Rather than capture an image digitally and have that immediate review, film (also known as analog) requires time and patience. With film photography, you have a set number of “slots” on a roll of film in which to take pictures. Each picture is special and demands thoughtfulness (besides the usual aperture, shutter speed, and ISO considerations).
It’s not just the shooting of film and carefully crafting composition; developing is the other half of film photography, as Ansel Adams once said. Developing film is an art itself as you can change the look and texture of your pictures by over or under exposing the images. Timing and chemical variances can impact how negatives will come out. And did I mention one has to wait for them to dry before viewing?
The best part about film, for me, are the adventures. For example, I have lived in the same town for 27 years. One would think that there isn’t possibly anything I haven’t seen. I took a walk around the downtown shopping area with my film camera and discovered new windows, signs, and entire buildings I had never really looked at. Film is discovery.
I’m not the only one to experience this return to film. Look up “film”, “35mm”, or “analog” on Instagram. You’ll find thousands of people reverting to the vintage techniques. If you yourself dare to try it, I wish you luck using digital again. I don’t take my digital camera out much anymore. I love film. I love finding a moment of time, capturing it, and having it reveal itself after I unravel the reel. Digital just isn’t the same.
The river is quietly flowing, replenished this winter by two days of rain. The snow is gone and the railroad tracks are abandoned save for my girlfriend and I taking film pictures. But for a moment, as I pull the camera down, I lose myself. I, as a person, am gone. I do not exist. I am just a human body near a strong river that has been used by Native Americans and my European relatives for generations. But even more, I do not have ancestors. I am nothing, just observing nature. And it is beautiful.
I recommend you go out in nature and experience identity loss. Lose yourself to the world. But only for a short while. You got life to live!