film is not dead | 12.09.17

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I have always thought that photography was such a cool hobby. I never really took it up though. I was always able to find some excuse not to; it’s too expensive, everyone does photography – nothing I do will be unique, what if I’m bad at it… I don’t know what changed exactly but I eventually came around. I thought, “so what if I’m bad at it? That’s what practice is for. Who care if everyone does it? I’m not interested in it to be better than anyone anyways”. So when Bryant and I returned from Oregon, I picked up my dad’s old Minolta XG-M, got a couple rolls of film off Amazon and started messing around.

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My dad gave me the absolute basic, crash course on film photography and obviously it all went in one ear and out the other. I was just so excited to get started. I even signed up for a photography course on Udemy so I could learn DSLR skills too. It’s been a few months now and although I still don’t really have any idea what I’m doing, I’m still doing it. I had taken some of Bryant’s rolls of film to Ritz before to get them developed. It was always so exciting whenever we’d wait on getting them back. The only downside is that Ritz location is the only one left in the area and is pretty much the best option for getting film developed. It’s at least a half hour away depending on traffic and it costs upwards of $10 per roll. People don’t kid when they say film photography can get expensive.

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I started looking into home developing and soon realized that it was much more possible than I thought. I discovered The Film Photography Project to be a really great resource. I did lots of research to learn as much as I could about the process and the materials needed. When I realized what the startup cost would be, I almost entirely gave up on the idea. I decided, though, that the initial cost would be an investment that would allow me to pursue this new hobby. It was worth it. So I went ahead and bought myself a film negative scanner, the chemicals and other “starter kit” accessories to get myself started.

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I’m not going to lie, the process is definitely frustrating. I’ve sacrificed two rolls of film and way too many hours these past two days trying to figure this thing out. I developed and scanned two rolls of my own film so far. Of the 48 exposures from both, only 33 even developed enough to have some visible image. To be honest, that’s a way better result than I thought I would get the first couple of times around. Even though I wasn’t attached to or upset over losing certain shots, I do still wish they had all come out. I keep telling myself, practice makes perfect. When it comes to teaching myself skills on shooting better and on developing and processing film. Once I feel more confident in my skills, I’d love to start developing film for friends too. As frustrating as it is, I do still really enjoy the process. Hopefully in the New Year I’ll be doing better! I’ve been tracking my progress on my Facebook and Instagram. Check it out, let me know what you think!

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Has anyone else tried developing film at home? I’m all ears to any stories, tips or tricks!

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fighting the good fight | 10.20.17

One thing that I’ve heard a lot over the years is how I – and others – are “battling” depression, “beating” depression. I guess that’s true. As hard as it gets sometimes, I’m going to keep fighting it and keep moving forward. If nothing else, it’s all I’ve done these past few years. I don’t like those phrases though because they insinuate that depression is something that must be defeated before one can live their life. That there’s something inherently wrong and needs to be fixed. Well, surprise everyone – I haven’t been fixed, I haven’t been cured but I’m still able to find happiness in life. I’m finding peace.

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Beale Street, Memphis, TN

One of my new favorite artists and Instagrammers is Bunny Michael. They create “Higher Self Memes” that are posted daily. As they said in an interview with Posture Magazine, “the Higher Self memes are messages of self-love and expressions of how we can all treat ourselves better, that we are more powerful than we even realize.” One of the first ones that was shown to me was this:

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@bunnymichael

I love their memes because they’re funny and relatable and so, so very spot on. I feel like the spiritual path, personal growth, recovering from living with mental illness… All of those go hand in hand. It’s never as easy as it seems. It sounds like growing spiritually would be a journey filled with rainbows and butterflies, but more likely it will be a stormy one. Even though I’m learning and growing, and I feel like I’m moving in the right direction, this journey is by no means an easy one. I still struggle, I stumble, I fall. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done and it can be painful. I have wanted to give up more than anything. But you know what? I know that it is worth it. Becoming more of a spiritual person, more enlightened, more aware isn’t just a trend or hobby, or a cool, hip thing that the kids do these days. It’s more than that. It’s a change in lifestyle that requires effort throughout your lifetime. It’s something that brings change, compassion, understanding and consciousness into your life and into the world.

People always say that it’s harder to break a bad habit. I always thought that would refer to biting your nails or picking your nose. Bad habits are easy to pick up and often go unnoticed until they’ve become an integral part of our daily lives, so much so that they’re hard to just let go. For example, I’ve spent my whole life being told certain things and being led to believe these false ideas about myself and my life. I wasn’t happy and I developed a negative way of thinking and of being. I used to be in such a bad place and I would go through these cycles, trying my hardest to develop good habits and practice self care and then falling back to square one. I tried everything. Nothing seemed to work. I honestly don’t remember how I got to where I am now, but I think that’s part of it. I wasn’t feeding into the negative as much. I didn’t actively participate in the defeatist attitude I had acquired. I didn’t always focus on it and let myself stew over all the negativity floating around inside me. Gradually, I was able to naturally pull myself out of that hole. Just by being. Existing. Becoming aware of all of this makes it a bit easier to move forward. That being said, it’s still hard as hell but I’m trying to understand more in order to find peace.

Since being back in Maryland, I’ve run into more than a few challenges and roadblocks but I’ve always found my way back on track. I really am trying to make a more conscious effort to do right by me and to do the things that will help me to continue on this journey. I signed up for a bunch of courses on Udemy that I am very eager to dive into. I’m teaching myself about photography. I’m reading more – right now I’ve picked up The Way to Love by Anthony De Mello again, as well as The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz. I highly recommend both of these books to anyone and everyone. They’re such easy reads but are so eye-opening and powerful. I’m trying to get outside into nature more, too. Doing the little things that I know will aid me in increasing my physical, mental and emotional well-being. A couple of steps forward, a couple back, but I’m still trying and I’m still fighting. A lot of the things I write about are lessons that I have learned and am trying to put into practice into my own life. I am by no means an expert. I have to work really hard every day to unlearn everything that I have been programmed to accept and to reteach myself how to be.

What kinds of things do you do that help you get out of a funk? Or that you feel helps you grow and move forward? Or even just things that you do that make you happy, that you’re passionate about? I would love to hear about them!