The Stories I Tell ~ from The Word Cellar

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I love stories. I'm the one at social functions with a dozen new anecdotes. But I worry about hogging the conversation. Sometimes I tell myself that I'll be quiet and let others do the talking. But no matter how hard I try, my stories insist on bursting out! Here I can let my stories (the classics that I tell again and again, as well as new ones that unfold along the way) run free. I'm a professional writer and editor, and sole proprietor of The Word Cellar. I write for a variety of publications and clients on everything from green buildings and nuclear reactors to entrepreneurship and the arts. If you need words written, edited, or enlivened, I can help. Contact me.


The Persistence of Memory

Good photography was one of the priorities for our wedding, and I think we spent about double for the photographer than we did for my dress. We met with several people who claimed to understand what we were looking for, but none of them truly did. Then we met Melinda. She understood that we wanted a photo-journalistic approach, something more artsy than staged. As a result, we have two huge albums filled with honest and poignant shots of the day.

But one of my very favorite photos was taken by a guest with an average camera. It's blurred, overexposed, out-of-focus, and off-kilter. And I love it so much. It captures something that I have been trying to put into words for the last six years. I think it's what memories look like. It reminds me of a photo you'd find in an old attic, and then marvel at how these people -- alive years ago -- look so young. It looks like a photograph taken through glass, and reminds me of "Nightswimming" by R.E.M. It's somehow melancholy and comforting all at once.

I love photographs in general and want to know more about taking them. I want to learn how to take better photos, and I know that a minimum level of technical knowledge goes with that. (Even if, like this lovely lady, I just want to play.) I tend to have a general impatience for learning technical things, even though I'm proficient at them once I've pushed through my desire for instant gratification. I should probably learn how to use the settings on my digital camera, or even figure out what different types of film are and why they're used.

What I really want is to create photo-art that evokes emotion and meaning. So I'm thinking about buying a Diana or Holga camera. Are you familiar with either of these? From what I understand, the Holga is a newer version of the Diana, but they're made by different manufacturers. They're both cheap, poorly made, middle format (what is that?) cameras that let in light and distort pictures. They create some beautiful art effects like vignetting and blur.

The playfulness and surprise results of such a camera excite me. Part of the reason I love the image above is that it was a fluke. I guess I'm looking to create intentional flukes, as ironic as that seems.

Can anyone recommend which to get: the Diana or Holga? What else should I know about them? Homemade modifications to the cameras seem to be a big part of the sub-culture. Are they necessary to get interesting photos? Please share in the comments.

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add to kirtsy | 10:35 PM


Anonymous Nikki said...

I love that photo, AND your title today (as it is one of my favorite paintings).

I just finished taking a photography class, which was a lot of fun. One of the students in my class bought a Holga about halfway through the class. She liked it, but the viewfinder was apparently kinda weird, and it was going to take her a lot more practice and experimentation to take anything interesting.

I was completely intrigued by the film... It is HUGE compared to the 35mm; each negative turns out to be about 2inx2in, I think. I'm not sure where you can get it developed--she did hers herself, but said it was really hard compared to 35mm, because you have to pull away this paper covering. She also had a hard time getting it on the reel before she put it in the chemicals, which resulted in some of her negatives touching (and getting ruined) during the developing process.

I still think it would be fun, but while the camera is cheap, it could turn out to be a very expensive hobby!

11/19/2007 4:04 PM  
Anonymous hannah said...

you can buy a holga from B&H photo in NYC- great selection online. Also, do some research on pinhole cameras, if you want to have lots of fun- about as basic and rough as you can get... film and a box, and a hole to let light in.

11/19/2007 5:59 PM  
Blogger daisies said...

i've had my holga for a few years now and i LOVE her. medium format is a type of film, its more expensive to buy and develop but its beautiuful square format makes my heart sing. i don't have a diana but i would love one, they are harder to get a hold of. i get my film devleloped at a local camera shop and get the film cut but i scan it myself as it can get really pricey. we are in the process of building a darkroom so soon i'll be able to do all my own developing which will cut down on costs.

the distortion and vignetting is caused by the plastic lens but it actually takes really good photos :)

good luck and have fun!

11/20/2007 11:37 AM  

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