I admit I don’t work with color film nearly as often as I’d like. It has nothing at all to do with cost, nor can I use the excuse that there are extra steps to get it processed. These things don’t bother me. I am perfectly happy to shell out a few extra dollars or wait a few extra days to see the final result of an image if the ultimate result will be a higher quality image.
The truth is color film actually intimidates the hell out of me. I’ve trained my brain over the years to think of image making in black and white terms. There is an inherent abstract quality to black and white and all your eye needs to do is look for shapes, lines, feelings, that one can fit into the confines of a frame. That sounds rather simplistic, but the point is you don’t need to think about elements that may distract the eye. When taking a picture of a building I don’t need to think about that splash of blue graffiti on the wall and what it will do for my viewer’s eye. All I need to do is think about the shape and where it will lead the eye.
I would argue that this is perhaps a flaw in my own creative process and one that I should correct over time. This image in particular was at one time an attempt to do just that. During a summer excursion out to the Columbia River Gorge I brought along with me five rolls of Kodak Ektar film. No black and white film. Just color. I figured a model with bright red hair and milky white skin was the perfect excuse to get out of my own monochrome comfort zone a little.
Of the sixty frames of film I went through that day, this was the only image I was truly happy with. Strangely, I don’t consider the day a failure though. I managed to make an image where the elements of color felt deliberate and worked in my favor. I created something that I can honestly say would not be the same if I had used black and white film. Maybe next time I’ll make two frames I like. Maybe next time I’ll make none. Thankfully it has never been about playing the numbers game either.