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i did the film photographer’s curse thing again where four months passed without taking a single shot & thus i forgot what type of film was loaded in the camera. the iso was set for 200, so i assumed the roll was color—twenty-something frames had been exposed & i figured, what the hell, live dangerously. it was the wrong choice.

photos meant for color film

i’m currently helping my friend josh learn film photography, which is bringing me back to basics a lot in my own practice. he’s a big fan of color & all i said to that was, it’s a completely different mindset than black & white, you will develop an instinct to look differently at the same exact scenes. this roll that had been in my camera for six months turned out to be exact proof as to why.

black & white photos tend to be defined by their contrast, the inherent binary. it can be passive or aggressive in approach. with color, it helps to see scenes through soft eyes, understanding relationships of hue rather than shade. the subtleties of these differences make shooting color more complicated—this, of course, all concerning settings outside of studios or controlled environments—as the end result will be closer to the ‘real world’ of the viewer than a photo in grayscale.

so when i finished the mystery roll & it revealed itself to be black & white instead of color, i could immediately think of a number of photos i’d shot specifically for the color elements—the bright-blue bench behind a yellow flower at pan-pacific park; a variety of multi-colored tents at a farmer’s market in fairfax; an american flag fabric among rolls of arabic patterns in santee alley—and how now they’d be completely fucked up. though maybe not all would be bad, something intentionally made to be seen with the more nuanced, subtle details of color will not be realized in grayscale.

we don’t naturally see in shades of gray, so the black & white photograph immediately becomes an object with less of an intrinsic relationship to life. like painting, scales of realism adjust how an audience will or will not relate to the work. it doesn’t make one superior, nor does either escape criticism. but they do require being assessed & critiqued in specifically different ways because of this.

the same can be said about people.

there are no easy endings in life. i’d imagine half the pain that comes with a finale are cumulative efforts to stop it from happening. i’m currently trying to cope with the loss of a long-time friend whose reasons for ending contact make little-to-no sense to me. over & over i review exchanges or reasons—all i can come up with is that it’s similar to a critique of a photo. people are all color prints, with plenty of tints & shades of our respective colors in the spectrum. but we are often critiqued by others as if what was presented is in black & white.

another intended for color

it’s the only way i can make sense of anything right now. people do this sort of thing all the time with one another; ignore the dynamic aspects of a person—or entire groups of people—and judge based instead in grayscale—a single point of reference meant to definitively state what is happening. a representation one more step removed from reality. observation from a vantage point of control—the photograph may have a certain depth being overlooked, revealing more than it shows, but it needn’t be minded if the point-of-view holds a different set of standards.

& like any creation, we are oft left to a path of these passive judgments. seen in one light, a consideration can be a condemnation. in another, it’s a form of praise. we all just sit here, hanging on a wall as the world outside passes by in sirens & exhaustion. so i will remain, hoping at some point the light will hit from just right outside, and more than my darkness can be seen—that it may affect someone in a better way. that this aging print of fuck-ups would offer something more than a window-dressing—that somewhere there is a space on a wall i fit in & that somebody would take me there.

nothing left to see

Santa Monica (Watch The World Die)

i met up with taylor today for juice & coffee in santa monica. we tend to catch up every month or so—this time it may have been closer to six weeks. a lot has happened in the world since then.

neither of us talked much at all about guns or the current state of the country. we didn’t talk about war, political parties, or the mayoral race going on right now. nothing on injustice or income inequality or incarceration.

yet still our conversation couldn’t escape the subject of depression. it’s something we inherently have in common, but it isn’t inspired by some big-picture circumstance. we talk about simple things: ‘regular’ problems that still feel like the edge of a cliff.

i like our talks because, as dark as they tend to be, we arrive at similar subjects from nearly opposite realities. she’s lived in los angeles for 10 years, has been consistently employed, and has a variety of friends in the city—i moved here during the pandemic & have, at best, spent a majority of my time somewhere between ‘looking for work’ & ‘having a nervous breakdown,’ with only one of the two friends i had upon moving to town still considering me as such.

perhaps it’s a sign of the times where we can spend hours on end without any lack for material about these subjects—the horrendous double-edged sword of employment & income in america, the taxing weight of constantly feeling mentally unwell, the wreckage that can be left in the wake of failed relationships. loneliness & the echo chambers of social media, the compassionless space of an empty apartment. the daunting prospect of the future—of any future.

it feels—or, it has felt like—sadness is the only constant in conversations i have now. in my aa groups, there is a certain amount of positivity—but those conversations are strictly recovery-related. a friend texted me today, this dystopia is exhausting. another is up & moving to the coast of croatia for a while to try to find some peace. me, i rescued a couple kittens.

everyone i know seems to be simply attempting to make the present feel manageable, as if we’re still betting on a brighter tomorrow while living in a perpetual storm. it doesn’t matter if the subject is the world at large or life in general, everything seems dire now. it feels like a certain fate lingers, waiting to make its presence known—and until then we’re all just cursed to deal with this universal ennui.

super 8

self portrait / reflect

garden forms

josh

dumpsters

josh / urgent care

talent: olivia

cool colors

delicacy among divisions

beast

spent some time with josh photographing around fairfax this afternoon. i have some more snaps to post, but for some reason affinity photo has some difficulty in exporting textured detail in .jpg, so given the fact most of my pictures are of flowers or concrete or trees, it doesn’t make for great file sizes.

—this did bring up a memory of the early internet when saving photos was basically required to be ~200kb or less, else a dial-up modem would take eternity to download them. these are saved primarily at 80% and still are half a meg. wild times we live in now.

Colin Smith (b. 1982) works in a form of assembly within and across disciplines, both in digital and analogue formats. Following in the ideas of media theorist Marshall McLuhan, the medium of his work is often dictated by its message—the diversity of projects that result are each an attempt to represent a particular thesis, a certain context.

Educated in graphic design and photojournalism, and self-taught in the visual arts, Smith has additionally worked as an art director, freelance designer or creative consultant for a variety of small businesses and independent clients around the world.

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