Personal: Desert Film & A Goodbye


In case you were wondering, this is what photos look like when the shutter on a really old 35mm camera stops working. 

I've had this camera, a Minolta X-700, since I rescued it from the back of my parents' closet long, long ago. Over the years, whenever I traveled anywhere wonderful I brought it along. It was my tool of choice to document my travels and what I felt during some of the most interesting and challenging experiences of my life.  My means to a personal, visual journal. In more recent years, I've had the option of documenting with very nice digital equipment acquired for professional shooting, yet I've continued preferring my film camera almost exclusively when traveling.  Many of these visual journal entries were documented during times I traveled alone and hadn't spoken (English, at least) to anyone in a few days. Sometimes I was enraptured with something beautiful and tried to capture that, other times I was upset and taking photos was my way of processing and making things right with the world, my therapy of sorts. Unfortunately, as I mentioned, this tool I've found so wonderful and beneficial recently broke. Also unfortunately, I learned that it's almost as expensive to repair a 35mm camera as it is to buy a new one, so this tool I've shared more travels with than any person I know is permanently retired.




But enough of the eulogy. 

Here's a bit about this specific group of photos. After a really beautiful trip to California with my friends the Manchiks for New Years (including many adventures, but one I was especially most excited to capture-- Joshua Tree National Park), I gathered the many rolls of travel film I'd accumulated. Some were weeks old, others months old, a couple were even a few years old that had unearthed themselves after my move across the country. 

I dropped the film off, eager and excited to see the photos from recent travels and intrigued by the mystery rolls I'd uncovered. When I returned to pick them up I was mortified to discover that 4 rolls were almost completely unexposed-- solid black, with a few partial-photos like these ones above (when the shutter opened a little bit, capturing only about half of the original photo I took). They happened to be the 4 rolls of Portra 400 I had recently photographed all around California. For those of you who enjoy numbers, this means I should have had 144 glorious film photos from this epic journey. I ended up with 13 half-exposed frames.

After mourning for a while, I decided to crop the black away from the few partial survivors and share what is left from that trip. I already shared all of these in a personally cathartic series on Instagram, but decided they should also have a more permanent residence here. Most of the horizontal shots near the end of this post in this group are fully in-tact; they're photos I took on expired Kodak Gold 200 before the shutter stopped working. The vertical photos are all partial frames salvaged from otherwise destroyed rolls of Portra film, but I still enjoy them.

Film from Palm Springs and Joshua Tree, CA. New Years, December 2014 - January 2015.