The Benefits of Doing Things from Scratch

Stored in my walk-in closet sits my box of assorted analogue cameras.  A mish mash of vintage Canon film cameras, a Ukrainian Fed-3, and a heap of camera accessories carefully stored and wrapped away from the dust, dirt, and moisture.  Without the luxury of my own study, this box gets hauled out every so often and its contents emptied out onto the kitchen table we inherited from my husband's late grandmother. 

The simple pleasure of just dusting off or cleaning accessories or a newly purchased camera is in some ways a meditative process.  I often get into this same zone when I am drawing, painting, or kneading bread.  During these times, I sometimes get asked why bother with using analogue film, making your own artwork, or baking bread when you can simply use a digital alternative or buy it from a store.

I believe we could all do with more of a physical connection to our surroundings.  We're always being told to get outdoors more or find new challenges but it is the act of simply doing or creating something from scratch which provides the greatest satisfaction.

Ever made your own loaf of bread?  My favourite kind is an almost no-knead cob recipe, baked in a Dutch oven, producing a loaf with a thick crust that has the loveliest golden brown sheen and aroma.  Surely nothing beats home-made bread.  Definitely something that fills the senses like the loamy scent of the air after an early morning rain or the aromas released at dusk from native shrubs and trees. 

Nowadays we are so used to getting things right away and, yet, we often may not truly find the satisfaction we crave.  Using analogue film and cameras is one way to delay the gratification so to speak.  It's a bit of gamble at times loading the good ol' rangefinder or SLR camera with film and hoping you get some good shots.  At times, I still find working out exposure values tricky but I think I'm getting the hang of it finally.

I love the anticipation of dropping off a film to be processed and scanned.  It's often feels like placing your hand into a lucky dip bag and hoping one or more of those thumbnail sized images on the contact/proof sheet is a winner.  Of course there's going to be some disappointment on occasion but when it works, oh boy, it's wonderful.

Our memories are tied up with so much more than what we visually encounter but we can sometimes be too busy to notice that it's not just the visual qualities but the sounds, smells, and textures that make a memory.  We are shutting out the many cues that trigger our thought processes when all you have is a digital or virtual image of someone or something.  You can look at or read about something all you like but it's not the same as being present in the moment.

During your day I hope you take the time, even for a brief period, to enjoy the people and world around you.  We're all guilty of being too busy or distracted but it won't hurt to feel a real connection every now and then.