on film (kodak portra 400)

Before the pandemic, it was business as usual for me to do two big trips a year and a handful smaller ones. But after these two years I didn’t want my first off-the-continent-travel to be as before: bags fully packed with camera gear. I really wasn’t looking forward to the rush of screens, beeps, snap-as-much-as-you-can during the day and transferring data at night. The goal for this trip was to relax and unwind so I decided to leave all the electronics home and pack an analog camera and a bunch of film.

During the beginning of the pandemic I did these analog photo walks through my neighborhood and I remembered the meditative feeling that comes with it. Because you don’t want to waste any film. So you think twice about the composition. And carefully check the light meter. And sometimes be very patient for the perfect light condition or subject to step in your frame. And then there’s the satisfying click of the shutter.

It took me a few days though to get over the fact there really is no way of checking the images before you‘re back home. I can’t imagine how photographers like Steve McCurry did that back in the days.

In countries like Mexico I am always amazed that as soon as the sun is on its way down and the temperature drops, the streets come to life. Makes me also think why on earth I wander these empty streets at the heat of day…

Even though we try to blend in with the locals and try not to stand out, most of the time we stay tourists no matter what. Due to Instagram and such, we’re tended to shoot pristine locations that we (seem to) have to ourselves. But sometimes it just isn’t like that: it’s crowded with heaps and heaps of them. Us. And when that happens, I try to turn the camera away from what I’m supposed to look at and keep an eye open for interesting fellow tourists, because when you think of it: they, we, are an interesting kind of species.

Being back home with all the rolls developed and knowing that it all turned out quite as hoped, I can say it was a truly therapeutic experience. I will sure do something like this again because there’s still a lot to learn.

March 2022