I’ve gone and done it. Always wanted to even when my main weapon was digital. Back when I was still actively doing music documentations with a digital camera, there was already intent to take a hand at photographing using analog. It was always “somewhere down the line.” Needed to focus first on what I did, you know, before taking on something new.

 

But the path I was in changed. I’ve always walked one path, a continually changing one, and the path suddenly changed back to making music. Decided to sell my camera and gear in order to fund my music (as well as to pay off debts incurred due to the emotionally turbulent holidays last year.) I was a man without a camera, but I was a musician once again.

 

And then the path changed once again. In a span of months, I went from photographer, to singer-songwriter, to … well … I decided to go back to my first love – writing. Figured that I didn’t need any other tool for that aside from my head and my laptop and/or a notebook and pen. But nothing really materialized from that. I had intentions and plans and ideas, but nothing materialized. Couldn’t even regularly update this here blog. When I write, I’ve always needed the use of my brain. With photography and music, it was more of natural instincts. It needed more than just my brain. Photography and music required an economy of movement from my whole body. My head since late last year was all over the place. Mental coherence was, is, a nigh impossible reach.

I felt increasingly agitated. More hollow than ever. Being a writer who couldn’t write became one of my major demons. I managed to vanquish that demon by simplifying things. I decided to drop every label I have. I wasn’t a photographer, I wasn’t a singer-songwriter, I wasn’t a writer. I wasn’t anything. And it felt freeing not to be anything. There’s no expectations from myself. That’s really all I ever concerned myself with – what I expected from myself.

 

A funny thing happened when I dropped all the labels I once had: I still had gigs, and in those gigs, man, I felt completely different. I was more relaxed when I was up on stage than ever. Felt more natural. The pressure was off, after all. I had zero labels. Sorta.

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Photo by Janelle Naval

I had labels attached to my name, but those labels were connected to passion projects and organizations started by others. None were my own, none rooted on my own passions. And I found another problem with that – I needed to be doing something that was rooted in the things that I love. Even without one fixed identity, I needed something more to keep me sane. I needed something more than just my guitar.

 

So I bought a film slr camera.

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Everything I’ve done since I went back to basics seemed as natural as ever. Playing gigs, photographing with the film camera – it all seems so natural now.

 

Anyway, I’ve shot a couple of rolls. I even got a second body. A rangefinder, this time. Shot one roll of film just to get the hang of the slr. Shot another at a gig. I’m excited to have the films developed and scanned, really. I’m sure a lot of shots are underexposed, but still the excitement is there. My abundance of patience is perfect for film photography!

 

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I still don’t know if I’ll do film photography professionally. It’s possible, even for the digital era, but it can get costly. Maybe someday, but I honestly don’t want to think about that in the meantime.

 

For now, I’m just gonna enjoy what I love to do. I haven’t felt like this since I started taking photographs. Haven’t felt this familiar with myself.

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*Header photo by Paul Tubera

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