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Film

I still use “film.” Every time I buy a new roll I wonder how long it will be before film passes away like home movie reels and Polaroid cameras. If I had digital options, I could pretend that film is uber-cool and superior and artsy but difficult to be plausible when comparing film-produced photos to the digital sisters.

The competitive nature within rises when I know my photos can’t compete. Frustration results from the playing field’s unevenness. I feel handicapped.

Film is delayed gratification. I remember the day when people had to wait an entire week to get photos back from the drugstore. I also remember taking film to quality developing studios where each photo was hand developed. In today’s world, development only takes an hour and even that seems long.

We just returned from an important weekend at West Point. With twenty-four pictures on a roll, I took four rolls of film for a total of ninety-six photos. Once upon a time, that was considered good documentation. In comparison, a digital photographer would have returned with five hundred pics. Knowing about the luck-factor in photography, the odds are against the film guys.

And another thing: whenever I say to a random person, “Would you please take our picture?” (and this is done only in the “big” moments), the photo always returns to me with something chopped off or, even with an auto-focus lens, blurry. It’s simply a fact on which I can always count.

Now I am brought to the present point regarding Plebe Parent Weekend and its photos which returned from Target (and, yes I did wait an entire day for them). Out of the four rolls, there were some keepers. For that I am thankful because I know that is not always the case because there are no re-do’s with film. Here’s the point: Where am I? Me. The mom part of “parent.” Always the photographer, never in the picture. Turns out in the one photo I allowed myself to enter, the ole chopping block syndrome came to visit.

When Stuart was small I caught him doing a very strange thing one day. He would put his index finger under his eye and jerk it up and down once at a time very quickly. And, then, he would turn his head slightly and repeat the motion.

“Stuart, what are you doing?” I asked him after observing this several times.

“I’m taking pictures with my mind,” was his reply. And he switched to the other eye like it was the most normal thing a kid could do.

“Why did you do that?” I inquired again.

“I ran out of film,” he answered with the confidence of a professional photographer.

I believed him then ... and I still do. The photographs taken by our minds are superior to both film AND digital.

Guess what? I’m in every one of those pics.

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