Time is a key part of film photography.
As photographers, we often race against time, when we might savor it instead. Slow photography is a way of being that accepts time’s limits. Although we can’t master time, nor extend it, we can change our minds about it. Cultivating an attitude that savors the moments we have, we learn to find timeless joy in the small things. For instance, we can savor the sound, the tactility, and the aromas of our film photo process.
Let’s explore 4 ways to experience slow photography that also help us savor our process.
1. Faith, Focus, Flying with Film
Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist James H. White has 3 principles. We can keep them in mind while doing Slow Photography as well.
First, there is Faith ( reference and respect for subject).
Next, Focus (persisting patiently, and stopping only after you feel that “Aha, got the photo).
Third, there is Flying ( a joyful emotion, flying the camera around by millimeters, moving it slowly and slightly, weaving and dodging to line up compositions that create harmony between background and subject).
2. Peaceful Reverence
When I take pictures on a beach, or do portraits, or make images of nature, more interesting images emerge if I approach subjects with reverence.
Respect between photographer and subject is essential. Violent confrontations by photographers and famous persons rarely produce lasting portraits. When respect is absent, movie stars injure photographers, and vice versa.
For portraits, it’s important to photograph smoothly, quickly, but not rush your subject. A time-honored approach is to slowly blend in, showing people engaged in life, not paying attention to the photographer at all.
3. Deep listening.
Before we touch the camera, we can listen. We may Stop, Look and then Listen with our entire body and mind to the person or place we are portraying.
4. One Action
Take one thing in photography, do it with careful concentration and with a loving and kind attitude.
( About the Film: All photographs were on Kodak Professional Portra 160 and 400 film, converted to B/W, and camera used was a Bronica SQ-Ai with lenses 110 f/4 mm macro and 150 mm f/3.5).
Regular FPP contributor Jim Austin is shooting with a Bronica SQ and a Contarex Bullseye. He leads adventure photography workshops for film and digital visionaries, has 4 eBooks available through his website, teaches photography through Flickr, and writes for Apogee Magazine, HDR One, FPP and other publications. Download his new photography book, Americans on Parade, at jimages.com.