The Art of Slow

Photography has been continually progressing to make things easier and quicker.  It started years ago when 135mm film was introduced by some guy named Oskar Barnack who worked at some company called Leitz (Leica). He wanted a camera format that was easier and much quicker to use than the large format cameras of the day. Fast forward to the 60’s and 70’s when Leica patented auto-focus technology. They eventually decided to sell the technology, which means Leica is either brilliant or not so smart. Soon the world was full of auto focus cameras and the race for the best detection system began. It is still raging today. Sony has a camera with over 400 auto focus detection points! Madness.

Digital cameras now edit JPEGs inside the camera so we needn't do anything other than press the shutter at the right time. Soon we will be able to adjust the focus points on photos that we have already captured! Pure madness. I have memory cards that can hold thousands of photos. I can also buy a camera that will take over 20 photos a second which means I can shoot thousands of photos in the blink of an eye. Even the rate of new cameras being produced has increased. Every year Sony introduces a new and improved camera to market.

 It is undeniable, photography seems engineered for ease and speed.


All this to say, what are we rushing towards? How is our creativity or productivity increased by being quick? In fact is there anything that benefits from being rushed? Just think of the last perfect cup of instant coffee you had…  I know one way to stop my creativity is to rush it and try to force it. That just makes me stressed. When we get stressed we tend to miss the details. In fact, we tend to focus on only a couple details and miss everything else. This doesn't sound very productive.


The Project

A couple friends and I were talking about this and we decided to slow our photography down, a lot. Like, a lot a lot. Over the next 12 months we will shoot either daily, weekly, or monthly and not develop any film until the very end. To point out the obvious, we will not see any of our photos until the year has ended. This is very much like the classic 365 photo projects people do expect for the whole not being able to see your photos part. 


How will this help us? Good question. Very good question…. I don't have all the answers but I do hope that it will help us manage our expectations. I hope that when we view our photos for the first time we will be able to see our work from a different point of view. We often will shoot photos and then immediately look to see if we accomplished what we wanted. Then we are disappointed and we shoot again. Then we check our results, and then we shoot again…  and on it goes.


Join Us

Join the hosts of the Against the Grain Podcast as we start September 1, 2017. We all have different cameras, and films, and will be shooting at different frequencies too. I will shoot one roll of 120 film per month (16 photos), others are doing one photo per week, you can even do one photo a day. There are no rules! We would love to have you join us and make this a fun group. Sign up for the email as well and we will send you progress photos! Which will just be me holding a roll of undeveloped film haha. This is something you can start at anytime. In fact, one or two of the podcast hosts will be starting the project a couple months later.  

Read about how Ray Larose will be doing his 365 project on only two rolls of film.

Join the project: Let it Develop 365 

Go grab a compact camera, a Ilford disposable camera, or grab your favourite camera. Load some film on September 1, keep shooting throughout the year and hold onto it until a year has passed. Develop the film all at once at the end of the year and enjoy!


How I Will be Participating 

I have decided to shoot one roll of film per month. I want to use this project to document different events and people in my life throughout the year. I will use a Contax 645 as I love the camera and lens.  I can also choose to use a dedicated film back if I need to keep the project photos and my regular life photos separated. I want to keep all the project photos together so I can have Contact sheets made.