July 7, 2015

Lost My Palette by Michael Vasquez

With the advent of digital photography I have lost my palette of colors, textures and hues. With the closing of Kodak so too it’s films, we have suffered lost so much its unimaginable. Both commercially and artistic values are gone and no one have produced the same type of films. From tungsten film, to high-speed film like Ektachrome with all its lovely grain patterns and depending on processing various tones and hues. Not to mention Agfa films with its own characteristics, I was just getting used to what to expect.

For many years I’d use these films like they were intended to, then I started using them for figurative studies for the different effects. My lab-guy asked me when I was cross-processing the films and wanted contacts, “what color do you want, I mean you could get anything”. I loved that flexibility to let my creativity go wild. I settled for skin-tones, get me the best skin-tones you can I told him. And skin-tones I got with lovely background textures and hues all in one film. As I used different films I got different results, some I like some not so much in this case or with this person. I’d just made that distinctions when I had the stroke and all experimentation’s turned to survival mode.

After two years of trying to get back to normal I had a friend come down and pose for me. She seemed as nervous as I was. I looked at that camera that I had gotten so used to, saw all those dials and setting, then the lens with more settings. 
 Add to that she was losing more clothes as we went along and getting more and more nervous. I had to get control over myself, subject and the situation in general. Then I had a physical reaction to her completely unbidden, I thought huh, followed by this is a model and friend, you are not supposed to have these. And then I thought that I was human and that this overall was a good sign and now concentrate.

Then I got that model/photographer equation, I remembered the creativity we had here, got 

myself back in control. The rest of the shoot seemed to flow naturally, because we were comfortable with each other I could concentrate on the camera and the model, I could see that we were getting some good stuff and I wanted to see on film what I’d gotten. That was part of the joy of photography in those days, the idea of what have I got here on film. Part of the magic of film was the unknown. I felt the magic of the shoot in me but I didn’t know exactly what I had gotten.

 Add to that the film part, what had I captured, what did the film look like and say about our shoot. 
Three or four rolls of film is a lot of exposures, in every shoot I look for that one or two remarkable exposures that tell the world a lot about you, the model and what the shoot was like. It tells the world what your eye is like, what it see’s, what questions do you have of the model. Not simply that she is naked, she has thought, feeling of her own..., what is she feeling, what has she experienced and what oh what is she thinking. The type of film that you use is important to telling part of the story, setting the mood if you will. The hue and grain add to the story you’re trying to tell. That was part of the message of film in my opinion, part of the craftsmanship of telling a story, part of the who, what and where of the messages you are trying to convey.

So I am going to miss my film. Those are important details I, we have lost for good it seems. I’ll take grain over pixels any day of the week.


An article by Michael Vasquez

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