Not too long ago, I encountered a real blunder in my schooling experience. Before I get to the blunder, I’m just gonna set up the scene.
So this semester I am taking a darkroom photography class. I am excited to be taking this class as it is a new experience and more importantly, it’s something I am passionate about. My class is small and intimate, which is perfect for my learning experience and I enjoy my classmates and professor.
With all that I’ve learned in these few short weeks of starting this semester, I am enthralled to have received the knowledge of the darkroom and the process of film photography. It is much more intimate, in my opinion than digital photography; my reason for saying so is that you are required to have a physically working hand in the film process but not so much in the digital process. Yes, I know that you can be just as intimate with a digital photograph but digital doesn’t exclusively lean towards intimacy, not in the way film does. I digress.
I was working on the first assignment of the semester. I did have a bit of creative block on this assignment but I overcame it; Burt (my professor) told me that if I wasn’t passionate and happy about what’s in the frame, to not bother taking the photograph. In practice, I find that his words ring true for me as I find myself more satisfied with my work after following this line of thought. Before I found this passion, I spent a lot of time thinking about where to go and what to look at. Eventually, I just let go and let the world around me speak to me. In the end, I found some wonderful composition and that made the five hours I spent outside in 100°F weather worth it.
After taking all of my shots and loading my canisters, I took everything to the darkroom. I spent a few hours following the procedures, enjoying the process of processing film. I find that the darkroom has a beautiful ambiance that I don’t find anywhere else in the world. It’s simply an experience that you must, well, experience to understand! Three hours flew by before I could count them. Lots of washing, loading, cutting and more took place during that time. I mixed up chemicals from scratch and watched the process of analog photography unfold before me. I was captivated.
However, all of that passion died a horrible death after I finished processing my film. Why? Well, my film was completely blank! Queue the Funeral March song! All of my photos simply disappeared off of the film strip; needless to say, I was devastated. My morale had fallen pretty low in an instant. What became annoying about the situations was when I realized how this mistake might have occurred. I thought back to when I was taking the photographs and realized a vital mistake; when I wound the film back into the canister, I amateurly exposed the film to the bright sun by accident. I didn’t realize it at the time but I made the one mistake that all photobugs should know to avoid.
In retrospect, after having the rest of a single day to think about what happened, I looked for the silver lining in the dark, ominous cloud. Sure, my morale was still hurt but I also knew that mistakes would help me grow. I know that my grade may suffer but I learned a lesson that could only be taught the hard way I suppose. I don’t plan on making this mistake again and I will be far more cautious in the future. Of course, I have to go out and find more things to photograph but that’s what happens sometimes. I just, as some say, have to bite the bullet.
Now, as a general moral to my story, I say that the lesson lies in learning to overcome discouragement and to look at it with an optimistic eye. I could have broken down and given up but I didn’t do that. I really wanted to though. I wanted to just completely forget about all the time I wasted and move on with life but I knew better. That’s not in my nature to simply let things slide out of view without some reflection.
Being frank, discouragement and disappointment completely suck. Still, they are a part of life that you have to build a bridge to get over. That’s what I did and I encourage you to do the same when something like this happens to you. It’s never easy and just know that everyone experiences this and everyone has a choice: to be stuck or to move along. Those who move along only get stronger and better at life; that’s what we should strive for.
I suppose all that’s left now is for me to get back out there and try again. This time, I’ll be a bit cannier to avoid another heartbreak. Wish me luck guys!
My story is a small and simple one but it gets the message across. Have you ever been disappointed after so much effort was put in? If so, what did you do? Leave your thoughts below!