Almost every professional photographer who came up before digital eclipsed analog has something a little bit strange in common and that is, a bag of old film in their refrigerator. Working with film on a daily basis, in it many different formats, professional life mixing with the personal, random rolls of film invariably piled up for years with the photographer figuring he would develop it “one day”. That day has finally come for many. The Lost Rolls America project, (a spin off of a related project by Ron Haviv of the photography agency VII) is doing something unique, ingenious and incredibly helpful. That is, processing undeveloped film at no cost from photographers around the world in the hopes to rescue latent memories.
I participated in the project after learning about it at Photoville and sent in about 5 rolls of 120mm film (medium format) and recently received back some revelatory work. Not only did I not know what or where the images were going to be from but I don’t even remember shooting some of it. Super exciting, a bit weird. I used to shoot a vintage plastic camera from the 1950’s for fun and most of the work seems to of come from that. Some travel, some early NYC stuff.
Technically speaking, professional film is manufactured with a certain shelf life unlike consumer film which is much more stable. These films are susceptible to color shifts and certain malfunctions when exposed to varying temperatures, light, heat, etc.. The cameras I used lent itself perfectly to such fortunate mishaps as that is the spirit of the camera; to embrace the accident. Vignetting, light leaks, scratching, etc.., they all come with the territory of using a plastic lensed camera.
Much thanks to Photoshelter and Fuji and Ron for making it happen.