I had an interesting encounter the other day, through Instagram, with a fellow film photographer. I had stumbled upon his feed, and was thoroughly impressed with his work. In good fashion I went through and liked a great deal of his photos (some might call this Instagram stalking), and then proceeded to follow him in order to be inspired by his work in the future.
As I was perusing his profile I noticed a few of his recent images had some really interesting dark tones and grain structure that I hadn’t seen in to many photos before. I’m always down for building new friendships and getting conversations rolling, so I sent him a private message complimenting him on his work and asking about these specific images. I simply asked what film stock and develop procedures he had used to get these types of results (a question I have asked and have been asked from other photographer numerous times). His response back was “A magician never reveals his secrets”. Seriously?!
Before I go any further, let me state… I respect his right to not share any info on the whole matter, I do, but is this really necessary? Are we still in a time and age where we have to hide our techniques and film stocks like secrets, lest our feeds get copied by someone half way around the globe. Should I be marking my negative sleeves and film notebooks with classified tape and tucking it into a dark safe behind the framed 8×10 above my office desk?
Yes I am making a caricature of the situation, but it really caught me off guard. In my entire time of shooting photography, there has been no group of photographers as open and community based as those in the film community. I mean seriously, its been open book up to this point. We are swapping gear, film and prints… let alone “secrets”. I feel like we are in a time where sharing our creative process is just as rewarding and empowering as sharing the artwork we make with it.
I will leave the photographer unnamed because I really do enjoy his work, and really don’t have anything against the guy. Like I said above, it’s completely his right to hold onto whatever he deems is a guarded part of his artistic process. We ended up messaging back and forth a bit after his comment, and had a pleasant conversation. I had assumed that the photos were on Delta 3200, which he did end up confirming after a bit of report building softened the conversation up.
I simply bring this up to say thank you to everyone who has engaged in open aired, no holds barred conversations with me over the past few years. I appreciate your honesty, vulnerability, transparency and friendship. I have been blessed with such incredible friendships within the film community, both locally and globally through the internet. I am inspired and encouraged by so many of you on a weekly basis. The beautiful medium of art we know as analog photography will flourish and grow when we come together and share our resources, tips, tricks and discoveries.
I also want to mention that I am an open book. Feel free to reach out and strike up conversations! Whatever I have to offer, I offer freely. However, if you want to buy me a cup of coffee or some film for the info I won’t turn it down! 😉
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! Do you have secret processes that you hold too close to share? Have you encountered either side of this in the past?