Argonauts of Film – the ones who lead the way

When talking about film photography, certain names always pop up in our brains. These names vary from person to person. We are all exposed to different forms of art, literature and knowledge about the world of photography. One thing I learnt while keeping this blog is how little I actually know about photography and those who came before me. I decided to do some research and broaden my knowledge on some influential photographers.

My initial exposure to film photography was probably when I flipped through the pages of 1980’s Vogue’s that my mom had collected in her youth.  The playground of fashion photographers like Juergen Teller, Mario Sorrenti and Patrick Demarchelier. We had stacks upon stacks of interior and gardening magazines. Little 5 year old me would venture down to the living room and sit among the towers of paper, just gazing in awe at the colourful images upon the glossy pages.

In my tweens, I discovered the magical world of Tumblr. I was sucked in real deep by the entire culture. I definitely knew more about Commes des Garcons and Kate Moss than about maths. I discovered the young photographers of my generation who were taking over the photography scene – Petra Collins,Tavi Gevinson and Ren Hang.

I had a huge admiration for South African photographer Henrik Purienne whose images are similar to the poolside glamour photos of Slim Aarons (whom I also adore). Then there are the Polaroids and still life photos of Andy Warhol. Moving to Cape Town last year and being exposed to the work of incredibly talented young photographers from the city has blow my mind wide open.

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A photo I took on a trip to Lake Como – channeling my inner Slim Aarons.

Reading the stories of all the aforementioned photographers has made one thing clear – that there is no clear path to finding your niche and style as a photographer. Like Vivian Maier (see my post about her), you may only develop the art form later in life -it may just be an extension of your personality and a way to express that. Like Elea Orengo (see my post about her) it may be as simple as just  always having your camera on hand. Or you could develop a style by educating yourself on the work of other photographers – deciding what you like and don’t like as you go along.

This generation is able to access all these resources by the click of a button. We are exposed to thousands of images a day, we have apps where we can curate our own aesthetic and we can build upon personalized archives of all our favourite images. I think the world of photography has become increasingly saturated, but there are who are pushing the limits and finding new ways of expressing themselves as a result of this saturation.

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Magazines and books are my number one source of knowledge when it comes to photographers.  Taken with expired Kodak Gold film.

The increasing digitization of the entire media industry as a whole as well as technological advancements has driven some to revert back to more archaic forms of documenting places and things. Reverting back to film photography has created a newfound appreciation for things that take time.

As much as I believe we should draw inspiration from others, I also strongly believe in finding your own style and voice as a photographer. I don’t wish to pursue photography professionally, but it is a major creative outlet for me. As someone pursuing a career in the creative arts and film industry, I realize the importance of developing an eye for  well composed images. This is something that takes practice and time.

My knowledge about film photography, the Argonauts that came before me, and the practice of photography as an art form has increased by leaps and bounds since starting this blog. Above all it’s taught me that becoming a good photographer doesn’t have to do with how many rolls of film you can shoot in a week, but rather the time taken to think about what you’re doing. Digital photography and our smartphones have made as hasty and at time lazy, but film asks patience and time. Just taking one look at the work of those who came before us will reveal this secret.

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Both photos above by me. This day I tried really hard to take my time to compose the images before taking them.

 

 

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