A Plea to Document Your life

In the age of selfies and having a camera in your pocket, it seems more and more young people have an endless camera roll of photos that will hardly, if ever, be looked at again. But is there a better way?

This was something I noticed more and more as I would have all these experiences with great people, yet I hardly had any of those memories captured. And as a younger photographer myself, many my age will also live through the screen at these functions. So what is the happy medium?

For me, the more I started shooting film, the more I wanted to document my life with it. Something about carrying a film camera and the romantic nature of candid moments captured on it.

Throughout this video, I go through a lot of my thought process on the why and how of starting to document my life, as well as why you may want to. One thing really stood out to me that led me to dive further into this method. I realized when shooting film that the beauty is that you can’t see the photo afterward. Stay with me here.

I find all too often when your friends want to take a photo together, or of their outfits, a group photo, etc., that afterward, they look through all of them and you hear all sorts of “I wasn’t looking. My hair wasn’t right” and more. The thing with film is that when you can’t look at it afterward, the desire for perfection goes away and instead, you’re left with an imperfect moment that is more honest and true to life. Because life is imperfect, and why try to change that for what is just a fun little moment? This process keeps you in the moment but still allows for that moment to be captured.

I always find in my circles there is a newfound fascination with the film medium so when you pull out a camera, it can spark a conversation or even makes everyone more likely to want to take a photo together. This is why you see so many people rediscovering disposable film cameras because it’s a low barrier to entry for not only the aesthetic but also the ability to stay present in a world full of noise.

I find these are the photos that I will actually revisit in my camera roll, will share on socials, and more. Because they are higher quality and they feel more authentic. If you were to look through my favorites folder on my phone, I can almost guarantee aside from my work, these are what many populate the folder.

The photos you come away with are the ones that you will want to share with your kids, as opposed to showing them one of the thousands of selfies that you may or may not have kept.

Now that’s not to say you have to shoot everything on film. But for me, it’s been a great way to document your life while staying present in the moment.

Log in or register to post comments
1 Comment

I certainly back the idea of documenting ones life, I just don't know if film's the way to do it. I still have tens of thousands of negatives that could/should/ but never will be digitized. They're not going to be printed either, no way. Film consumed me from my first 35mm Petri to my last Leica, two and a quarter and 4x5 as well. Though I printed my fair share I always thought of them as the documents advocated here. Well they're not, they're little 35mm boxes with inverted colors or grayscales that sit sight unseen in a storage container and have for decades on end. They're not seen therefore they neither exist nor document anything. All of those moments, for now and up until now, are lost.
I love the new fascination young people have with film, my old fascination too, but it's not all anybody should be relying on. I took a wet plate collodion workshop in Slovenia last year and it was great but I won't be documenting much with it besides my own very specific and rare creative urges. It's for art, not for everyday documentary.
Buy a used full frame digital with a nice used prime or two and shoot. Or a little point and shoot, a G10, even a phone, just shoot. Shoot till the cows come home, shoot everything and anything, just shoot.
Actually shoot your mom, dad, grandparents and family. Dogs, cats, girlfriends, boyfriends, etc. Shoot what in forty years you won't be able to shoot anymore. Document their lives within your life too. All of the rules above still apply, don't expect or demand each to be perfect, just that they capture the moment - or your fancy. The blurry lake shot above exemplifies that approach. Accept what you get because what you got really happened. Some's junk but other goof ups or technically less than perfect shots can still speak volumes.
What do I do with it all? Besides having multiple 4 and 8 terabyte drives, duplicates even, off site backing everything up as well as being replaced when need be, besides that I have it all on one or two home computers. From there it's primarily accessed via ...... drum roll .....my Google Screen Saver. That thing slowly displays it all randomly with a 7 second dissolving pan and zoom that cycles through everything. I'm constantly stopped in my tracks seeing this or that, all random. I often sit down just to watch it all go by or stop it and explore a particular just seen date by accessing it all in Picasa. (Yes, still downloadable).
Things I'd not remembered, thought of in years, or would have otherwise forgotten, all randomly floating by. With the right card you can have three monitors running off the same machine each weaving in and out of your life. It's wonderful and only makes me want to shoot more, to shoot everything around me and everyone I care about.
Film's great but digital is the only way I can do that. Both time and money would stop me from doing it any other way. Photoshopping? Almost never.
I'm close to 70 and know how lucky I am to have this technology at my fingertips. I hope you all are aware of that too. There's room for both mediums, but there's also a place for both. Time and money and how much of each you have at your disposal will tell you which way to go.
Either way, yes, document your life. Start now.