I’m posting this image as a way to illustrate something I love about film. When I was out on the coast recently, a perfect stranger approached me and said, “wow, your old camera is so cool, can I check it out?” I happily agreed and let him go about fiddling with it while I continued taking a shot I was already in the middle of. While my back was turned he must have taken a frame without my knowledge. It wasn’t until I got home and developed the film that I realized, “huh, I didn’t take that image…oh wait, that’s me!!”
It’s little surprises like this that keep me coming back to film. The unexpected. The surprises. The moments that you didn’t even know where there but they happened anyway. Had this been made while holding my digital camera it would have in all likelihood been deleted, by either the stranger or myself. But here, with the separation of time between when the shutter was fired and when I pulled the negatives from my sink, a mystery evolved that brings more questions than answers and puts a whole new intrigue to the image.
I will never know the mystery photographers name, or why he decided to take that shot. Maybe it was just an accident, pressing the shutter button by mistake and he was just too embarrassed to tell me. I don’t think that is true however. The frame is too well composed, too deliberate. Maybe he was just so overwhelmed with what he saw in the viewfinder he couldn’t help himself. What is strangely beautiful is he will likely never even see this image. He made it because he felt the need to do so and whether it was intentional or not he gave me a gift.