Back to where I started…

I remember. I remember when my Granddaddy gifted me with my very first film camera. My Granddaddy Bilisoly always observed. He knew his grandchildren’s talents, passions and potential. He encouraged us. He saw my love of photos as a little girl. I was always poring over his collection of albums and rummaging through his secretary full of photos in envelopes, sorted by date. I loved the stories he would tell. Oh, yes, he always had a story. Always. We still laugh about the stories he told us…his memories given to us. They are now our memories as well, woven into the fabric of our lives.

So yeah, he gave me my first camera when I was about 13. It was his old camera. A Kodak 110. But, to me, it was new. It was a gateway to whatever I wanted to capture. My first shots were more often blurry than not, but I kept shooting. Even as a young girl, the family quickly realized if there was an event, I would document it. I remember shipping off my rolls of film to Clark’s Photo Lab (anyone else remember this?). It was cheaper to mail off film than to have it developed locally. As a girl who’s income was derived solely from babysitting jobs, cheap was good. I would mail them off…and then wait. Oh, the joyful anticipation of waiting that so many people miss now. In this day of instant everything, we’ve forgotten how to wait. And we’ve forgotten the sweet moment of receiving what we’ve waited for. Oh yes. I would run to the mailbox every day, hoping my fat envelope of photos would be waiting for me. When they would arrive, I would sometimes look through them right by the side of the street. I had to see!

The longest wait was after a family beach trip to Oak Island. A heavy afternoon thunderstorm rolled in and I was determined to photograph the lightning. A large bolt shot down from the sky and I clicked the shutter. Yeah, no sneak peeks in those days. (Gosh, I feel ancient). I didn’t know if I got it or not. Did I just have dark clouds? I mailed off the film. And waited. Forever.

But, then…the envelope. I ripped it open. I shuffled through my photos. And then I saw it. I screamed! I jumped up and down in the driveway. I ran to the house, waving the photograph over my head.

It’s still the photo I’m most proud of. I caught it. No second chances. No ability to know whether I had captured it or not. But, I did. With a simple Kodak 110.

film-photography-burlington-nc_0003Fast forward to the digital age. I remember that too. No film costs? No sending it off to the lab? Cool! Instant photos? Awesome. Since I was living in The Netherlands, this was the best thing since sliced bread. I could easily update my family on our family happenings…send photos of their grandchildren with email. I could snap away without any thought to the expense.

But, there was a problem. My stockpile of albums suddenly stopped growing. Everything was on the computer. Not only that, the first digital cameras were not known for their quality. I did print out photos but they looked awful. When we moved to the States, I “safe guarded” my digital files to CD’s. Guess what? Something happened to the CD’s. Files were corrupted and I lost a LOT of photos. Gone.

Yes, digital cameras have come a LONG way. We can create stunning photos now. But, sadly, they are still digital. Too many people do not print their photos. And digital, as amazing as it can be,  still can’t match the quality of film. I missed film. Missed popping in the roll. Missed the anticipation.

So, I’m going back…back to where I started. No, I don’t have a Kodak 110. I have a professional SLR…a tank of a camera. I admit to feeling a little emotional when I inserted my first roll of film in 15 years!! My Granddaddy saw my love of photos. I know his encouragement is part of the reason I’m doing what I love today.

Since Victoria was galavanting in Europe (yeah, hard life), I called on my other favorite model, Hannah Spurlin.  She was my guinea pig for the first Fine Art Film Session. We laughed as I learned my new camera…and laughed when I kept checking the back of the camera out of sheer habit. Nothing there. Haha!

Then I was loading film into an envelope again. No cheap labs now. Off to the pros. I waited. I remembered waiting before.

I loved the feel of it.

The photos arrived. I smiled. Yeah, this is good. Really good.

Film is so beautiful…the colors, the details, the depth.

The timelessness of it…

I want you to experience it too.

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All images ©Blink of an Eye Photography/Marie Janssen. Do not use without permission.

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