I interrupt my re-capping of our summer travels to Spain and Paris to share some of the instant photography shots I recently unveiled for Autumn Polaroid Week. For this now twice-a-year extravaganza of all that is wonderful about instant photography, I saved a few of the portraits I took of my amazing friend, Melissa, to share. I posted my very favorite black and white photos of her that I took during our shoot in Oregon, but was hoarding these color images shot on IMPOSSIBLE Project film to share last week for Polaroid Week.
Amidst the colors and the vibrancy of Barcelona, I found some stolen quiet moments. In a three-week traveling adventure, and in the everyday routine, a space of calm and solitude is welcome.
Both images shot using my Canon AE-1 camera on Tri-X 400 film, scanned by Indie Film Lab.
Back to playing catch-up on our summer adventures! After our few days in Sevilla, we headed to Barcelona. This is the only city in Spain that I had previously visited — I spent 5 days there during my epic 7-week, solo backpacking journey many moons ago. I was eager to return to Barcelona as I remember falling in love with that city when I had been there prior. I wondered if its architecture, color, art, and food would still hold its enchantment all these years later. I’m happy to report Barcelona did not disappoint.
to the colorful Casa Batlló…
and the towers atop La Pedrera.
The market, La Boqueria, is a visual feast with everything from fresh octopus…
All images shot using my Canon AE-1 camera on Portra 160 film, scanned by Indie Film Lab. As always, you can click on each image to see a larger format.
I’m still playing catch-up here at Life Refocused, working my way through our summer adventures to share with you. A few short days after returning from the Tribe retreat, Tony and I headed off to Spain and France for three weeks! I had been accepted to present my research at a conference in Paris, and as we had just been to the City of Light in 2012, we were very excited to return to one of our favorite cities on the planet. My motto is if you’re going to travel that far and spend that much money to get there, you may as well stay for as long as you can and get the most bang for your proverbial Euro. That’s where Spain came in.
We flew into Madrid, but only spent 24 hours there before heading south to Sevilla. I won’t even go into the massive debacle that unfolded for our traveling companions. Suffice it to say, your passport actually expires, for all intents and purposes, six months PRIOR to the printed expiration date. Given the distractions of how to get our friend’s passport issues sorted and agonizing about how this would effect our travel plans, very few photos got taken in Madrid. Thankfully, the passport dilemma got solved with help from the literal powers that be, our friend arrived in Madrid with only 24 hours delay, and off to Sevilla we went.
I have many friends who have traveled to Sevilla, and all of them simply rave about this town. Having never been there myself, I was very much looking forward to seeing what all the hype was about. It is a charming place, particularly the old town which is where we spent our three days.
We visited the Alcázar of Seville, where I found one of the loveliest sitting spots…
and on to the famous and immense Plaza de España…
As recommended by the New York Times, La Azotea was our favorite dinner spot…
All images shot using my Canon AE-1 camera on Tri-X 400 film, scanned by Indie Film Lab. As always, you can click on each image to see a larger format.
In my last post, I shared my new love affair with black and white film. The affair is still in full bloom with no signs of fading. I also hinted about a photo shoot with my Tribe sister, Melissa. For her amazing, year-long Project Adventure, Melissa decided she wanted portraits of herself taken in an intimate photo shoot. I was flattered and humbled when she asked me to be the photographer behind the lens. Before meeting up in Oregon for our retreat and the backdrop for this photo shoot, we compared notes about ideas for shots and made our respective packing lists: Melissa’s for wardrobe and mine for photo gear. I knew I wanted to primarily shoot film for these photos of Melissa, so I brought along three film cameras — Polaroid 195, Polaroid SLR680, and Canon AE-1 — and lots of film for each.
Rather than do the photo shoot all at one time, Melissa and I found ourselves allowing some space and freedom for these photos to emerge over the few days we had together. This gave us room to experiment with different locations, various lighting, and divergent moods. It also let us have some fun with costume changes. More importantly, giving ourselves the time to spread the shoot over a few days let us learn that pushing or forcing a photo session when something feels off or isn’t quite vibe-ing does not make for good portraits.
Since I’ve been immersed in self-portraiture for the past year, taking portraits of Melissa also let me hone skills I haven’t used in quite some time. I got to work through posing Melissa and positioning myself for good angles. This included working collaboratively to find the sweet spot of what I wanted as a photographer and what felt good to Melissa in her body.
I practiced how to talk with Melissa during the photo shoot. This might sound odd — she’s one of my best friends, after all — but making someone feel at ease while having her portrait taken is harder than it seems. It’s especially hard when using a rangefinder or other manually-focused cameras, as the process of shooting a photo becomes more of an ordeal, taking longer to get proper focus. Additionally, I became more aware of my own discomfort when taking the time to focus properly with these old-school cameras. I noticed how I start to rush myself out of concern that the person I’m shooting is getting annoyed or uncomfortable waiting for me to get my focus and position settled. This rushing is definitely not good for my process, and I was able to recognize and begin to work it out during our time together.
Best of all, I learned how totally fun a portrait session can be! I’m so used to shooting self-portraits and being alone during the process, I had forgotten the joy it brings me to create photos of someone else who is equally invested and into the session. Despite me being behind the lens and she in front of it, Melissa and I felt like a team. I think that collaborative spirit comes through in these images and makes these photos that much better.
Melissa was so open, so vulnerable, allowing me to really see her. I feel like I was able to capture her beauty — inside and out — in an authentic way. I hope she feels the same. I’m so grateful Melissa wanted to do a portrait session and that she selected me from the many talented photographers with whom she works in the wedding and film industry. It was truly my pleasure and honor.
All of the photos shown here were shot with my Polaroid 195 camera and Fuji 3000B film. This last photo makes me swoon. Shooting this film and seeing these portrait results breaks my heart that this film was recently discontinued. Melissa is sharing many more photos and her experience of being on the other side of the lens over at The Long Haul Project. Check it out HERE.