SEEN: Magic as light hits silver
BY MIKE SIMONS
Sunday, December 23, 2012
12/23/12 at 7:36 AM
Editor's note: Seen is a weekly feature showcasing the work of a Tulsa World photojournalist.
Let me start with a confession. I hate the retro-filter phone photography craze.
I have struggled to understand why I hate it. I think I finally have the answer. To explain it requires looking back to a time when photos were printed with actual film borders. I was 15 and got my first SLR: a Pentax K1000 with a 50 mm lens. From that moment on, I have been taking photos obsessively. A 25-year compulsion.
Every once in a while, I run into someone from high school and think, "I'm doing the exact same thing I was doing the last time they saw me." It always makes me think back to the wonder and magic of photography. A time when I had no idea what was happening when I took a photo. I would put the paper in the developer in the darkroom and marvel as the image appeared.
"I did that?" I would think. Then I would think, "How did that happen?" Pure magic and excitement.
Now, 25 years later, I know exactly what will happen every time I release the shutter. Rarely am I surprised when the image now instantly appears on the back of the camera. Sure, I still make mistakes, a lot of them, but I almost always know I made a mistake in the 1,000th of a second that I hear, and feel, the shutter click. There are no surprises anymore.
I see a lot of professional photographers who are shooting with Hipstamatic or Instagram filters. They have a $10,000 camera and lens around their necks and choose to reach into their pocket to shoot with their iPhone.
I believe that nostalgic feeling of being surprised by what happens is why they choose to do this. The magic of the unknown that attracted us all to photography in the beginning.
Me? I appreciate the past 25 years of trial and error. And when I want that nostalgic feeling, I choose to do it the real way. My $25 Holga film camera. No computer filters or algorithms needed for effect. Light hits silver, and that magic happens.
Instagram recently came under fire for new terms. No matter. I never signed up for Instagram. Instead, I have been posting my film photos to Twitter and Tumblr with the hashtag #eventualgram.
Instagram's slogan is "Fast beautiful photo sharing." Most things that are beautiful are worth waiting for.
Where to get cameras, process film
All these photos were shot with my Holga and 120 medium format film.
Locally, you can buy Holgas and other plastic cameras at:
1936 S. Harvard Ave.
Philbrook Museum of Art gift shop
2727 S. Rockford Road
Some places locally that still process 120 and other film:
6570-A E. 51st St. (Farm Shopping Center)
2115 S. Harvard Ave.
1936 S. Harvard Ave.
An American flag. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
David Wright helps his aunt in Tulsa. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Jonathan Smith and Danielle McCarver share a moment in downtown Tulsa. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
A window in an abandoned building in Sperry. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Cristi Martin and Isaac Farley on their wedding day with daughter Marigold. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Alonzo Larkins' doorbell. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Sunshine in downtown Tulsa. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World