When the #FriFotos theme “Black and White” was announced in the beginning of the week, my mind immediately wondered to a nostalgic place: the darkroom. I must confess, the more iPhone Instagram photography I see, the more I yearn for my high school days, when the darkroom was my only quiet solace from teenagehood. Back in 2004, when I was a high school senior, the whole concept of digital photography was just beginning to take off, which is almost surreal. It doesn’t seem that long ago, but now, with a single touch of a button, you can turn a blah sidewalk scene into a ’60s era Polaroid, post to Twitter, and relish the “oohs” and “ahhs”. When I think about how many hours I spent shooting with my Nikon film SLR as a 16 or 17 or 18-year-old, I almost feel sorry that the future may be denied the slow art that is true black and white photography.
It was in my high school photography class that I learned the most, and while I did not possess the genius or talent to output great art, I will forever remember my teacher Mr. Sarian’s exasperated voice as he tried to impart his wisdom. “Sometimes you will wake up and it is raining and you will not feel like dragging your camera out and taking pictures,” he’d say. “But I guarantee you the pictures you take on a rainy day will be ten times more interesting than the pictures you take on a sunny day.” Thank you Mr. Sarian, and all teachers out there, whose darkrooms and advocacy for rainy days provide a temporary relief for all teenagers, for whom everything is black and white.
The following #FriFotos pictures are true black and whites: film photography taken my senior year of high school between 2003 and 2004 and developed in a darkroom in my high school. They are from a series I called “Wishes.”
This next photo is so dramatic, it sometimes catches me by surprise, but it was for a Self Portrait assignment. I took my eyeliner and drew words (backwards) on my face that I thought described myself. I was 17. Looking at this at age 25, I probably couldn’t change any of the words. I’d keep “undecided” and “stubborn.” Maybe I’d add: “wanderer.” Looking at this past-me-face, I’d like to give her a hug, because she is young and headstrong and thinks that everything is definitively this, or definitively that. See, now that I’m older, I know that things are much more complicated than that. Now, though something may come wrapped in a bow of black and white, I can see the grey areas in between.
Dedicated to darkrooms. May we never forget true photography.