Sweet Jesus. Cross-processed Fuji 100f from the Ace of Spades at Salton Sea. As they say, all good things come to an end. Oh, and 645 format no less. Pentax. With its BEAUTIFUL full rebate data collection offering. Man do I miss those days. I really do.
I had a long call with an old friend yesterday. We spoke about the wasteland of modern photography and the stupidity of things like social media and the snowflakes of today. We also spoke about the harshness of our photographic upbringing. The things we saw and heard that today would be career-ending events but back then were no more than an average Tuesday. (Some of these are so classic they make me giddy.)
But we also spoke about the good. The purity if you will although not in the classic sense. There was nothing pure about us, or our intentions. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. We were all selfish and driven. Master manipulators. As humans were were just as flawed as the snowflakes of today but the photography was very different. For the vast majority of what you did there was no prize.
Days, weeks, months of just wandering with camera while attempting to compile something good. I remember everything about this day. Pre-Instagram destruction of places like Salton Sea, Salvation Mountain, Slab City all of which now live on the “Hipster Trail” from Silverlake to Palm Springs and Joshua Tree. Perhaps existing now more for the like button than for any other reason. My Honda Civic pushed as I drove quadrant after quadrant often just to see where the pages of my paper map came to an end.
Back then it was just about seeking something. Maybe, if lucky, a few weeks or months later you would see a confidant, “Hey, what do you think of this work?” But most of the time it was about being alone with the thoughts in your head and the negs reflecting back from the light. And the key element was TIME. There was ample time.
This film, gone. Most of the processing lines, gone. The location, gone. This camera, gone. (For me.)But the idea of what we once had has only been hiding. Under layers of faux busy and phony importance. I don’t expect any returns. Nor do I think those days were better, only different. But we can LEARN from these times. Deep breath. Phones down. Needy inner child napping.