I don’t remember all of the details behind this image, but what I do remember is how it made me feel because there is a certain feeling that comes with shooting with the 4X5. As a photographer I oftentimes struggle with this need to feel what I’m doing. In order to feel like I’m making something I have to feel like I’m working. It’s this need for a physical and tactile experience that shooting digitally, and sometimes just shooting with 35mm doesn’t fully give me. With the 4X5 you have to carry around about 25 pounds of equipment. Just getting the equipment out of the car and carrying it to the destination is enough to break out in a sweat (something I view as a positive experience.) Once you get it out and onto the tripod, extend the bellows, get under the dark cloth and look through the ground glass you’ve already put a considerable amount of work into it and you haven’t even framed up the shot. And the ground glass! Looking through the ground glass gives you this heavy but hopeful feeling, the world is more beautiful, crisper, cleaner, more pure. A photographer doesn’t really feel alive until they’ve shouldered the dark cloth, put their eyes to the glass and looked out into a brand new world.
I am a firm believer in experiences over things, memories over stuff. Maybe it’s because I have spent the past twenty one years as a part of the lower middle class or maybe it’s my hopelessly romantic old soul, but to me, the preservation of a moment far surpasses a keychain or a magnet. Photographers are collectors of both light and time, able to see a grainy black and white before the shutter is cocked and the film is loaded. These sheets are a precious glimpse into our worlds, the things we have seen and the ways we’ve imagined. You may see a snowcapped mountain hugged by pines, a field bowing down before it. I see the gas station we stopped at to eat our potato salad, the ditch we jumped into and the land in which we trespassed upon – both equally beautiful, slivers of time.