After waiting over a week, I got the call from Black’s telling me that our pictures were ready to be picked up. With a deep sense of anticipation, and a little fear that we had ruined the film or misused the camera, I picked up the pictures. Thankfully, even the pictures that I thought we had ruined through overexposure (see Part I) were developed without issue. However, I had already forgotten what we had actually shot. With delay between taking the shots and our lack of notes regarding how any of the pictures were taken or even who took what shot, the pictures now seem foreign and removed from the process of taking the picture. Unlike my DSLR, which allows me to immediately connect the process of taking the shot and the image on the LCD screen, these printed pictures do not recall the very physical and interactive process we experienced in taking the photos. Paradoxically, although the finished product of this process is the material prints, with weight and texture, they seem less real and less immediate than digital photographs. This detachment seems at odds with the feeling of permanence often attributed to physical prints, but is, I propose, the result of the time between shooting the film and receiving the photos. We as consumers are distanced from the commercial processing of the film, and thus from the material photos. Further disappointment is engendered by the delay: the hope and expectation built throughout the shoot and the week following regarding what we might have captured to film, and the potentiality that the printed pictures are more likely to highlight flaws in our photographic skills. Because this photo shoot was not about capturing a memorable moment but exploring the physical process of taking photos, problems with focus and exposure, as well as missed compositional opportunities, become even more central to the disappointment in the final prints.
In addition to the pictures and negatives I also ordered a CD of digital scans of the photos at an extra cost in order to facilitate sharing the photographs. However, after only a week, the excitement to share these pictures had greatly diminished. Unlike the instantaneous sharing of mobile pictures or the process of uploading the pictures to your computer (then to Facebook or flickr) once you get home, the delay of developing the pictures destroyed much of the urge to share these photos.
I love how important that unknown technician is — I feel the same way about my shots (and of course of those wonderfully awful selfies). It’s weird how much more intimate it feels to share all those pictures with one unknown person than with “the public” on instagram/facebook/this blog.