“Any one who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eyes are of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light” Plato, The Allegory of the Cave
This last weekend I began something new. And when I say I began, I mean that 5 of the most talented ladies I know came together alongside myself to finally begin something that has been keeping me up at night for months.
In March I began to really fixate on the ritualistic nature of my craft. There are so many facets of photography that led me to fall in love with the medium, but it wasn’t until I found myself in the dark room, feeling around for my tools and dropping things in the dark, that I really felt in sync with my medium. Photography is all about light, whether that be keeping something sheltered from the light or exposing it to the light, it all comes down to light. You have this light sensitive material, kept in the dark for it’s entire life, protected, and then for a small sliver of a second you expose it, light comes pouring in, plastering itself all over this sensitive material and then it’s thrust back into the dark. And then you pull it out in the dark and you wash it. You submerge your film in water and then after a series of being washed, it’s finally ready to emerge and withstand the light.
This ritual has captivated me, and all of my photography forefathers before me. So I started to connect some dots in my mind, this idea of dark to light, being washed, and being somehow stronger because of that, strongly resonated first and foremost with philosophical ideas of enlightenment, and secondly the ritualistic nature of Baptism. And so for months I walked in circles and circles around this idea, how could I connect these ideas of dark –> light and submersion in water and capture it all on beautiful black and white film. It wasn’t until I started thinking about what this all means to me that I realized what needed to be done. Shooting film and working in the dark room, for me, creates a stronger bond with my medium. It fosters this intimate relationship that I get to have with what I do, brings me closer to the work and closer to understanding the work. The rituals behind photography and image making helps me to become united with the film and thereby understand it more, but how could I get closer?
I found the answer at the end of a 45 minute long bath.
So this last Saturday we were fortunate to wake up to a beautiful October day. I gathered my fellow Honey Bees and we went down to the river equipped with a 4×5 camera, a mamiya, a few polaroids, and a couple toy cameras all loaded with black and white film. We proceeded to submerge each other one by one in the water, capturing the entire experience. Through this process we gained inspiration, understanding, and a deeper appreciate and connectivity to our medium. We collected the water that washed us and will use the same water to wash the film. Through this process we have become the film, recording the process with our bodies as the film records the process with its own.
Check out the Honey Bees below!