The younger "Millennial" generation seems to get some rough treatment from older generations. I believe they are altering the world to match how they want to live and this causes the rest of us some anxiety. But the truth is, they have brought a great deal of wonderful things. Take for example the coffee shop. Starbucks seems to be all over the place, but the millennials were not happy with the cookie cutter, large franchise coffee shop. They wanted the unique experience of a local, community coffee shop.
The image above, with the peeling paint, exposed brick and humidity damage would make previous generations drive to Home Depot to buy a can of paint. But for millennials this imperfection is what gives this locations its character. It should be left alone and enjoyed. If you want perfection, go to Starbucks!
This trend has found its way into photography with various filters trying to mimic the imperfections of film. Everything from grain to light leaks are being mimicked in order to give an image some unique character. The very things that photographers tried to avoid in the search of the perfect photograph, is now being sought after. A perfect image is very easy to make in the digital world. But to make a digital image that mimics the random influence of nature, that is a real challenge.
Here is an image I shot on film using my trusty Nikon F2. I had this window in a very old hotel I was staying in that looked out onto the house next door. It was winter in the Lake District of Northern England. I took two images of this same scene because I was not sure if I wanted to house in focus or out. I did not square up to the window and took it from an odd angle. I set the f stop to an f/3 or so to though out the background but keep the window frame sharp. I had the added challenge of the net behind the window which I wanted to be a bit out of focus. This is why I did not use a f/1.8 as everything would have been far too out of focus to properly see. This was HP5 film pushed to 800 to give me the contrast I wanted.
The point is that a great deal of thought, time and effort has gone into making an imperfect image. It hints at what is in the background without stating it clearly. The odd angle makes you feel as if you are looking at it. The line of the house is clear as is the window and chimney stack.
The shot above was the last shot on the roll of film. I wanted a picture of the shoes these young women were wearing with my son in the foreground out of focus. I wanted it to be the last shot in the roll so I took three images of the same scene. I kept the full scan and the light leak of the end of the roll is clear. The shoes are bright and in focus but the rest of the image is a complete mess. And this is what makes the shot.
This last one was a very tough photo to capture. I was in the basement of Charles Dickens's hope in London. It is a museum now and you can see some of his furniture, cloths and the general outlay of the house. In the basement I had this terrible light which was amazingly beautiful casting haunting shadows all over the wall. There was a coat hook holding the old keys. The challenge is that we were in a cramped hallway and while I had plenty of time it was difficult to find an angle that worked. I settled on this image that is completely wrong but in the right way. It has a great many flaws but it somehow works.
There are times that the accidental muse hits us and we trip over a shot that somehow works. This is fun to see however we can indeed plan and work for it. That is what the millennial have taught me...perfection is over rated.
Patrick...confirmed film & digital photography addict.