June 2016 was an amazingly busy month. I don't even really know how I fit everything in, to be honest. I've made a concerted effort to simplify my life this year yet, still, I find myself consistently busy. June was filled with music shows, art shows, catch-ups and hard good-byes with family and friends. One of my favorite parts of the month was taking part in a fun film photography contest. Please read on!
Ribnar Mazumdar, a dedicated and prominent film photographer based out of Chicago, held the contest. He set clear rules, dates and expectations so he would receive the cameras from participants in time to do all of the developing and scanning, himself. I cannot stress enough how big of a feat this was for him!
Participants shot with four categories in mind: Street, Architecture, Landscape and Portrait. Once the film was developed and scanned, Ribnar uploaded the images to Flickr and created albums for each participant to view and select their final submissions for each category.
I'd never shot with the disposable Ilford HP5+. I did my research and used Ribnar's well-documented tips for shooting and I also used my digital for exposure and framing reference. Having become acquainted with film photography using my trusted PentaxK1000, I found the disposable Ilford to feel toy-like. The puny "click" of the shutter, the lightness of the camera and the simple, plastic viewfinder left me wanting more during the shooting process. I didn't get the same butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling I typically get when I lift the PentaxK1000 to my face.
Nonetheless, I shot for each category and submitted my pictures for final judging. Having seen some of the albums rolling in during Ribnar's scan-dev-upload endeavor, I decided there wasn't any likely chance I'd be in the running for top photos but I was content with the experience and some of the connections and encouragement I received during the process. One thing I have learned is that the flim photography community on social media is outstanding, and this was no exception.
I was sick, in bed, the day the winner was announced. Dustin called me, mid-day, asking if I'd checked my phone. I hadn't.
"You won," he said with hints of incredulity and pride in his voice.
Dustin was the one who convinced me to take part in the contest and I don't think either of us expected a win, considering the caliber of talent in the contestants.
Only one of my photos had given me "that feeling" when I chose it and it was my portrait submission. This was the one that ended up winning it for me, as the judges awarded it high points for the portrait category. The contest was an extremely close one and my architecture submission provided one more single point to nudge me to the winning position.
As a creative type, this kind of recognition feels great. It gives me that tingly, happy feeling that keeps a person motivated to keep on keeping on.
I have to say a great big thank you to Ribnar, the judges and the all the contestants. Please check out everyone's hard work and show some love: No Gear No Fear 2016.
I realized, recently, why I love street photography so much. Having grown up in a world where social media only became reality in my twenties, I learned about the world and the expectations the world has on me, from print, television and radio media and from associations with religious friends. My mom never told who to be or how to be it so I've aggressively diverted myself from any and every thing that tries to tell me how to live my life.
After watching the Everybody Street documentary on Netflix, it left me with a feeling I hadn't really felt before. It was a good feeling. I had a glimpse into split moments of strangers' lives, no story attached, no media "angle" - just real-life people. The pained look on a face, the smile on another, the look of wonderment in a child or even the look of confusion or anger as a passerby realizes their picture is being taken - these are moments I like to see. They are authentic.
Authenticity is so important and for so many reasons. I sometimes watch a movie, read a book or get hooked on a tv show that sways me into trying to act like someone I'm not. I think, "maybe I'm not professional enough" or "maybe I should be more reserved". And it works - but only for a few days. The real Tashia starts to poke through and I get down on myself for not being more naturally professional or reserved. And so the tornado of insecurity starts.
I am an outgoing, wildly inappropriate and relatively unprofessional human being. I talk about poop during most dinner conversations and get children to smile during photo shoots by talking about poop. How the hell do you convince a girl who lives most naturally in that mode to be more professional or reserved? You do it at the demise of her spirit.
So, to recap, I love street photography because it inspires me to be authentic and offers glimpses into the lives of others. In those micro-moments, their faces do not lie. Their spirits shine through and that makes me feel good.
This was Dustin's second year taking part in Art Farm, an art/music/food fest held at a beautiful farm in Weyburn, SK. You really feel the small-town camaraderie as streams of people filter through to support the artists, try the food and listen to the music. We were fortunate enough to have a tent set up next to a beautiful 9 month old pitbull/lab cross with the most adorable ears I ever did see.
The farm also has a few horses and I took some time out to pet and photograph them, as well. Overall, it was a success!
The flower's at Mom's house bloomed vigorously in June. I don't have much more to say about it, than that. Perhaps it's understated, but the feeling I get when I sit in her backyard paradise is unmatched by most things. Can you say, "peaceful, baby!".
I've only been acquainted with my south-facing balcony for two summer seasons, now, and it has become quite the guessing game to really understand what kinds of flowers will truly thrive out there. In case you couldn't tell, I love being around living things. Felix really likes his flowery, bug-filled balcony, too.
We were busy like bees in June but somehow we managed to do a fun shoot for a coworker of ours. Kemp wanted to get a few shots of his car. It has been a couple years since Dustin and I have done "roller" shots where Dustin hangs out the window while we drive in tandem with another car and take shots to get some motion blur. As is with most of Dustin's shoots, I hung out with my Pentax and took shots here and there.
Dustin introduced me to the concept of red-scale film in June. Turns out, you can flip a roll of color-negative film and shoot through the emulsion in the opposite way you typically would. Research suggested shooting at an ISO of 50 or so in order to inflate aperture and shutter speed. This allows for a better penetration through the film-base. What I like most about experimental shooting is that it forces you to perceive your surroundings in a totally different way than you would if you're just shooting regular color negative or with (shudder) digital. I kid, I kid. Kind of. :P
Government Town played a show in the early part of June. Boy, was it ever fun. There are 8 of us in the band, so it makes for some interesting music. I was so excited to find out we finally had our music uploaded to Spotify, with the release of our third album. We've been together for 5 years and we're on our 3rd album! Holy crap it blows my mind to think about that. It's easy to look back at a feat like that and kind of blow it off but when I really think about it, or if I listen to our albums and realize how far we've come, I feel immensely proud to be a part of the group.
Being a back-up singer has taught me SO much about music. Having always longed for a lead position, musically, it was quite the adjustment to my creative process and to my ego (hey, I'm human), to be the backup singer. Mike (lead singer) wanted, early on, to find someone who could sing lead on the songs he's written. He spent years writing and playing out of the public eye and when he was finally ready to share his music, he didn't think he could cut it as the lead singer. We did try having me sing the songs but ultimately he turned out to be the one who had to tell the stories his songs convey.
As I was saying, being back-up has taught me to listen for sections of the music that need a little "lift" with a harmony or an "ooo" or "aaah". As the albums progressed, we started having more and more fun in the studio, layering harmony upon harmony and layer upon layer to build up the back-up vocals and place them in sections of the song that had need for that little extra "umph". Honestly, not being caught up in the lead vocals has made me a better musician, as a whole. Learning to harmonize, alone, is like learning to pat your head and rub your tummy and it ain't easy.
Anyhow, check out our albums if you get a chance!
Okay, I told you June was a really busy month so bear with me; I know this is getting long. Luckily, I ran into some new inspiration this month and it molded beautifully with an experimental development process Dustin used. You see, he was running low on chemicals to develop color-negative film so he threw out the idea of processing the backlog with traditional black and white chemistry.
The beauty of shooting film is that you don't become too attached to your pictures since you don't get to see the photos right away. I honestly couldn't even remember what I had shot on those (six?) rolls of film sitting in the backlog. I just shrugged and said, "sure". The chance you take with film is that something can go wrong anywhere along the way and you may never see your beloved pictures. But, like I said, you typically don't really remember what you've shot and it turns out to be such a beautiful surprise when you see the pictures appear on the negative after coming out of their bath.
These negatives looked... blank! That's right. They hung there limp and sad-looking, appearing as though all of the creativity that had gone into them was a waste. After they dried, however, Dustin held them to a bright light and saw a glimpse of something. Upon scanning (Dustin taught me how to scan so I could help with the backlog), the pictures took shape and I'm SO happy we took the risk with the "kinky" process.
The pictures you see below line up with the inspiration I've soaked in from a VERY prominent film photographer: Adam Goldberg. If you don't know him as a film photographer, you may know him as Chandler's strange roommate on Friends. He's a tv star turned amazing film photographer and I love his photos. I don't think this is just because he has a fame element to him. He actually takes some really sweet photos. They typically have a dreamy feel. You'll see in my photos below why I liked how these turned out and if you look at some of Adam's work.
Whew... and here they are:
This one hits really close to home. We lost our sweet cat, Polly, in January to a disgusting disease that affects young cats with a lot of life to still live. Polly was our first shared pet and we loved him SO, SO much. We bought a "P" to put over his food dish and, now, that P sits with his remains on a shelf in our home. A friend of Dustin's recently started hand-poking tattoos and it seemed fitting that we'd get complimentary P tattoos in honor of our sweet Polly's short life with us.
Seriously, though, I'm pretty sure his little kitty ghost hangs around with us most days. :)
Savannah was a gracious host and her kitty, Ziggy, was also quite willing to pose for a few pictures while we took turns getting tattooed.
I swear, we are nearing the end here. But aren't we just having so much fun? I just love sharing with you. #justgoshoot is a hashtag used in social media and I seriously have no idea where it came from but it makes an appearance in many of my posts. It means, so obviously, that sometimes you don't have to feel inspired to create something really cool. The trick is to, well... JUST GO SHOOT! Pick up your camera, pick up your guitar, pick up your paint brush... whatever it is you do from the bottom of your heart, you sometimes have to just do it. Oh god, why did Nike have to slutify that saying? Anyway, here are my #justgoshoot photos. These are the ones I may have not captured if I hadn't forced myself to sling my camera over my shoulder during daily life. :) There are A LOT of flower pictures but it is summer, after all. (yeah, yeah!)
As many times as you see Dustin in my photos, there are an equal number of pictures he's taken of me (if not, more). It's interesting to see the photographer, behind the scenes. It's even more interesting to see the changes that can show in a person, even if it's just from one month to the next.
Dustin is my inspiration for creativity. He's so passionate about photography, he actually develops and prints his own film and, thankfully, he develops and scans my film, too!
Visit Dustin's portfolio to see more of his work.