I sent my 4×5 Portra 160 film and one roll of Portra 400 120mm film from the last three studio sessions I have done with the hopeful anticipation of getting back some beautiful images. I was going to take these large format film sheets and make composite images for my final prints for my show opening April 6th.
One-for-one, the 4×5’s were unexposed. The questions that arise here are:
WHY? WHAT HAPPENED?
We used the meter and set up the lighting. Yes, the lens cap was off,. Yes, slides had been removed. We even used my digital camera to set our exposure and aperture to get a good idea of out lighting situation. Likely, they’d be a little underexposed, but since I’d be scanning and digitally printing I had some room for error. I could always bring up the exposure in photoshop.
But something, somewhere, at some point, got lost in translation.
Edgar at Praus couldn’t figure why. Megan Charland promised it would drive her mad until she figured out what could have happened; she’s reaching out to fellow film heads to get some answers. Louis Chavez was incredulous.
Personally, I had to take a moment to just allow the disappointment to sink in. There is heartbreak here. It’s sort of the worst case scenario when it comes to film development; your film doesn’t turn out or is ruined at some point in the development process.
I watched. I breathed. I bathed.
Then, I made dinner. And in the middle of making dinner, surrounded by potential turmoil and the churning of a New Moon in Pisces, Mercury stationing Retrograde and this unfortunate failure, I had a resolve.
This is a test. A test of my resilience, my creative perspective. A test of surrender, problem solving and determination. I wasn’t gonna get caught up in a failure spiral. Instead, I was going to be a f*$king bad a$$ and turn this all into creative potential immediately.
I wrote a blog post for my Creative Cycles Mentorship page (here). And I decided to focus on what WAS working and what I had to work with.
The 120mm film that Louis Chavez shot for me turned out great. I have also used my digital camera as a back up in every one of my sessions to ensure there was some form of an image to work with. You know, just in case the film sucked or turned out poorly.
I have time, resources and community support to work my final images into something beautiful, profound and important. I have time after my show to reshoot in film if I so desire (which I do).
My resolve was to understand and accept that a failure within a process is not a reflection of my identity. I failed, but I am not a failure. The failure is an opportunity to learn, grow and develop my character, my creative ingenuity and my problem-solving skills.
This failure gives me an opportunity to ask the images what they want and need from me and how I can be in service to their final expression rather than take a controlling and perfectionist driven position.
Surrender, allow flow.
My resolve was to focus on what WAS working and what I DID have rather than drowned in the despair of what wasn’t available and what didn’t turn out.
Isn’t that such an important lesson for life situations?! True creative mastery and flow evolve from focusing on what is right in front of you, giving attention to what is working and allow THAT to drive you forward into the next stage of success.