robert frank

05Mar10

James is a great photographer.  (He was in Moving Walls a couple of shows ago.)  He has a photo blog about his MFA adventures, and just announced that he is giving away 100 rolls of expired film.

I suddenly want them, really bad.

His instructions were to write “a really meaty, heartfelt, tear-jerking paragraph or two or three about your favorite photographer, how his/her work has influenced you and what you want to shoot with the film.”  I’m in sort of an edgy mood and this is what I just wrote and I feel pretty satisfied with it.

from Robert Frank's "The Americans"


I recently started shooting pictures again, and it was Robert Frank who brought me back from death.  I was leaving on a road trip (to make junk art in a midwestern iron scrapyard) and felt this burning need to check back in with The Americans.  It was the first photo book I ever bought, a few months into my first old Olympus.

A dozen years later the images were still fresh.  I imagined Frank as this loose lone wolf in a double-wide Cadillac, hunting in dark corners and drinking thin 1950’s coffee.  I wanted to be that guy, lonely and hard and stinking of tobacco.  It was sexy.  It was solitary.  I could relate to it.

Now I’m interested in the work of Paolo Pellegrin and Moises Saman and others who make complicated, layered, sometimes kind of smudgy but ultimately sort of simple black and white images.  Film grain gets me off.  It feels mysterious and organic, elegant and anti-digital.  I don’t give a shit if anyone else likes my new images – I actually don’t care whether I like how they turn out.  It’s the taking I love, haunting the edges of the queer parties where I go to dance, dropping out of petty conversations, seducing the disco light and the smog machine and the shadows.  Hunting.

I’m interested in the 400 speed film.  I’ve been shooting in the dark without a meter and I like the idea of throwing even more uncertainty into the process.  I usually photograph when I’m out and a little fucked up and using fucked up film will only add to the metaphor and the discovery process that happens when I get back my film.  Also, I’m dying to use a Rollei and will need to make a lot of mistakes in order to get it right.  Color, too.  I need to go there.

Give me the film, James.

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