Contrary to what you might think, I don’t like to have my DSLR camera with me when I’m living my everyday life. It’s far too easy for me to fall into a work mind frame with that hunk of magnesium and buttons and curved glass in my hands. I find myself an observer of the moments I’m meant to enjoy, rather than a participant. For the longest time, I couldn’t find a way to capture the joy of the moment with my heart and mind while simultaneously capturing it with my camera.
Around the time I became a full time wedding photographer, I made a decision to try my hardest to be an active participant in the events of my life and my family, rather than a documentarian of them. I stopped bringing my camera with me to family events, stopped volunteering to be the de facto photographer at birthdays and graduation parties, and stopped telling myself that I somehow wasn’t a real photographer if I didn’t pick my camera up every day. When I travelled, I started trying to experience new places with all my senses, instead of just one eye through the viewfinder of a DSLR. I paid more attention to the smells, from the pleasant aroma of roasting peanuts in central park, to the downright putrid bourbon street on a hot day. I talked to people and looked them in the eye, rather than just stealing little pieces of them with my camera. I ate new foods and walked on new streets.
It was around the time that I made this decision to be more mindful in my day to day that my husband brought me an old Rolleiflex film camera. I’d never really shot film before, and wasn’t sure I was ready for the challenge, but the better I got to know that camera, the more I realized it was the perfect balance between living life and documenting it. With film, I had to be selective. I had to be present. I couldn’t mindlessly shoot and sort through the files later. I had to truly be in the moment and relying on those senses to choose what was worth a press of my shutter button and what wasn’t. That Rolleiflex has since become my favorite travel companion, next to my husband. I love it, not only for the pictures it takes, but for the conversations it starts. Strangers walk right up to me and ask me about it, tell me how they remember their father, or their grandfather, wielding the same camera at family outings. Young children are fascinated by the levers and dials, and beg to be shown the picture on the back of the screen after I press the shutter, only to be confused when I explain there is no screen and it’ll likely be weeks before anyone can see this picture. They’ve only ever lived in an immediate world, and the idea that some things are worth waiting for, is lost on them.
This Rolleiflex has been with me from New York to New Orleans, Costa Rica to California, from the Southern tip of the Florida Keys to the Northern tip of Michigan, and you can bet it’ll be by my side wherever I’m headed next. Here are some places I took it with me in 2014.
A few of these shots are from a Contax 645, which I had a brief affair with and quickly fell out of love, because it felt too much like a DSLR.