Sunday, December 31, 2017

End Of A Roll

The year 2017 has been quite a wild ride. Among my roller coaster years, this has been one of the most surreal for me, regardless of reasons for good and bad. I take the time to be grateful of the good things that have happened to me this year. Despite all the bad times, I still have lots to be grateful for.

This is Minnie. Some see a camera. I see provenance.

I take this time to mention the adventure, the blessings and the amazing people I had the privilege of meeting going through life this year, especially in relation to my shutterbug habits.

I dare say, this year may have been a huge loss for me, if it weren't for these little blessings I found along the way, and the renaissance of my hobby, thanks to film photography.

The Journey Back To Film

I admit, my interest in photography in general was getting a bit stale. I have yearned for a particular look, but I didn't wish to spend too much on software. I wanted the film look. Maybe it was the nostalgia the colors bring. Or perhaps the fact that I can relate the name of the film and the look it gives me better, than the filters in Instagram.

My gateway to this was this app called DarkTable. It is one awesome app by the way - even more so if you have the t3mujin pack installed. This gave me access to film emulation presets that had me enjoying for months. But ultimately it began to feel like a chore for me.

Digital photography, is a bit of a double edged sword. While it gave you a lot of options and a world of flexibility,  in my case, I was spoiled for choice. This led me to having a bit too many choices, and kinda took the fun out. There's this pressure to take great images, and unfortunately, it all didn't have the flavor I look for.

Eventually, my pictures will have physical negatives.

Then along came Minnie. By some series of coincidences, Minnie ended up in my possession. If that isn't serendipity, I don't know what is. Through Minnie, I've come to rekindle my love affair with photography. And gradually, I found myself shooting film so much more than digital. Don't get me wrong, I'm still into mobile phone photography. I admit it gives interesting results, it still doesn't have that feel offered by film photography. It's somewhat visceral and subjective. Not everyone can relate to what I'm saying.

Free Coffee Van
One of my earliest shots. Taken with a Fuji C200 film.

Some may argue it's a foolish pursuit. Then again, in the pursuit of one's bliss, everyone else's opinions may not necessarily matter. This isn't something I necessarily do as a means to an end. For starters, it doesn't have any financial gain. This is something I do for the sake of doing, an unadulterated activity free from the need of meeting other people's standards, nor the need to get paid. History may not necessarily look at me kindly for this, and dismiss me as a fool, but that's none of my concern at the moment.

There's this sort of bliss in the process of procuring new rolls, loading,  shooting, meeting people, sending rolls to be developed, the anticipation and gratification of finally getting the output. It's not something history can properly describe, nor something that digital photography can replicate.

Many people shoot pictures to earn. I do this purely for the love of doing it untarnished by unsolicited opinions and expectations from other people. I have acquired more rolls and I will keep on shooting.

The Strangers I Meet

A lot of friends I made are the Starbucks baristas who are immensely friendly, especially the ones at branches I frequent in.  In context to this, I've not included them, because for starters, I've been friendly with most of them since 2014. This post is only specific for 2017.

I am socially awkward. I cannot deny that. Even if I did, it's written all over my face. Nothing leaves me stuttering, nervous and gripped with apprehensions like talking to strangers at a social context. If I had no business or any compelling reason, I find it best to usually just remain silent and go unnoticed. Rejection affects me more than most. On some days I get rejected on sight - people going silent as soon as they see me. That has been a compelling reason to prevent me from being an extrovert.

However, one can only stay in the comfort zone for so long. Certain events involving somebody has led me to a spiral that may have gotten harmful to me. It's not the first time that this has happened though. I've dreaded the cycle of strangers becoming friends, and someone closer than that and only suddenly to become strangers again. I've become so attached that it dreads me for one to become a stranger. One can only take so much of that... I found myself hurtling towards the discomfort of talking to complete strangers.


Cool Hat Dude
Cool Hat Dude From El Kiosko Cubano. I never got his name. I'm that awkward.

Tin And Sophie
Tin And Sophie

Chito Miranda-- I mean Jasper
Chito Miranda Jasper

All these amazing people I met when I went to climb a volcano.

Joseph the guitar guy.

Needless to say, that was just the start.

In an insane time of my life, along came this stranger who wanted to collaborate with me and have me take her pictures. This sprung the idea of me taking pictures of people. Alas, that becomes for naught though, as she decided to back out and was never heard from again.

... Maybe that's all she's meant to be in my story.

What followed next has been wonderful. The next thing I knew I found myself chatting up people. Mostly the kind of people I find most difficult to talk with- ones whom I find in any way, attractive. I found myself wading through rejection after rejection, but despite all that, I'm grateful to find gems among them.








I may have become my most sociable, if not borderline reckless... And it's amazing. Each stranger I had the privilege of talking to, I've gained some insight, a lesson, some enlightenment, and ultimately, for many, an acquaintance, if not a friend. Ultimately, I found uniqueness in each one, and the diversity is amazing.


Kristia Mae





These acquaintances and friends I made, not because of any merit I have, but because of their kindness. Some are friends I only chat with but never met in real life, others, complete strangers kind enough to let me take their portrait.






I've no delusions that they'll stay. While I'm a bit sad to not hear from some of them, I'm still grateful that they shared that time, and story with me and I wish them the best in their pursuits. Those who decide to stick around I still chat and have coffee with from time to time and it's awesome.

The Amazing People Who Helped Make Film Photography Enjoyable For Me

This endeavor of shooting film, has become an experience in itself. My workflow, has become more than just work, it's become a relaxing routine. I buy rolls either online at Filmfolk, or at their partner, Satchmi Store in SM MegaMall.

Throughout the week I shoot through a couple of rolls on average. I fill up a form for Sunny16 Lab for the films I'm going to send for processing. On Sundays I go to Satchmi store, have some delicious pastry that goes great with that latte, and give them the rolls along with the money for processing.

... Then I have that cake. The Everything Bar is blissfully delicious. It's everything but true love though... Because the Chocolate Lava Cake is.

The Everything Bar. Blissfully delicious. But it's not true love.

... But this chocolate lava cake is as close as it gets to it.

Before I walk out their door, if I'm running low on film rolls I just buy new rolls there as well. Without the people behind Filmfolk and Sunny16, and even the ones at Satchmi, I admit film photography would've been  quite a chore. I've not met the awesome people behind FilmFolk yet, but I had the privilege of meeting some of the people behind Sunny16labs. And I'm somewhat star struck each time.

Joem. One of the big bosses in Sunny 16. The guy who can single-handedly shoot a whole wedding. By some coincidence I had the privilege of chatting with him one evening. He looks unassuming but he's a rockstar as far as I'm concerned.

Selah. She is an awesome photographer. This awesome lady is one of the amazing people behind Sunny16labs. She regularly takes care of the colored photo processing, and general day to day stuff. 

Lillie. Another one of the photographers I look up to. She takes interesting portraits as well and processed many of my monochrome rolls. It was thanks to her that I got my hands on a Canonet. She owns the coolest SLR I ever got my hands on.

Kim. Another one of the bosses there. She's not afraid to get her hands dirty. I had the honor of seeing her in action when I met her. She's the walking definition of coolness.

I hope to meet everyone involved in this hobby of mine. No reason in particular, just for the sake of actually meeting the living and breathing people who make stuff happen, and make the mundane parts of my hobby much less of a chore. It's because of these people why I can conveniently do what I do, and focus more on taking pictures.

To The Future

The past year has been quite a journey. It has driven me into the farthest spectrum of my emotions. I had regrets over what I've lost, disappointments on everything I closely missed, but I am grateful for the little joys I found along the way while wading through my darkest of days - it was partly because of the little acts of kindness of countless people I met along the way that have gotten me through my gloomiest of days. That in itself gave me hope somehow one way or another. Everything here doesn't end with just the pictures; these are only a frozen moment in time. For that frozen immortalized moment, there were stories told and I will remember them.


Moving forward to 2018. All while I'm hoping to advance in my day job and career, I hope that in my personal time I'd get to explore more places and meet more people. I hope to hear their stories and have the chance to take their portraits. This kind of itch, I don't feel will go away anytime soon. And it's not exactly a bad thing.

There are a lot of kind, amazing, and interesting people around us, and I intend to meet them- one stranger at a time. There will be more people whom I want to meet.

As usual, follow me Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Flickr, and (especially) Instagram. Don't hesitate to share your thoughts on the comments as well. Until then, don't be afraid to get lost and wander.

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