It sat in my top drawer in my bedroom for a few years. A roll of 800 ISO Fuji Superia 24-exposure 35mm film. It sat in a box with a few coins in it, it sat in a box to through half of high school and all of college and sat in a moving box and later a drawer in a closet used for storage. And there it sat. Searching for some 35mm negative sleeves, I found this roll of film with the leader sticking out, thinking it unused. So I shot it. I took my film to a locally-owned film processors’/dry cleaners’ in town and when I got the film back, “Double Exposed” was written on the outside sleeve, containing the 4″ x 6″ glossy prints.
And double exposed it was. Every 24 frames were exposed nearly directly on top of each other. The two pictures in one frame are separated by six years. I took these pictures back in 2006, I believe. Or maybe 2005. I don’t recall what’s happening in them, why I was taking them and the fact that pictures I took a week ago sit on top of them, make the reasons harder to uncover. I was astounded for a number of reasons. Not just in how some of the pictures directly correlate like the two cameras or the ever-present self portrait in a reflected object, but in the separation of themselves by time. Time is of course a major factor in photography, but, more importantly (especially in film photography) there’s luck. It’s true I wanted some of the recent pictures on this roll to turn out, but the gift I was given in forgetting outweighed the expected; the luck of happenstance made me appreciate the act of photographing even more. It got me to notice how my vision was and still is evolving, yet my mind’s eye hasn’t changed much in six or seven years and may not ever. That, I think, is innate.
I don’t know how I got away with it. Carrying that little Canon AE-1 camera around during high school — which I got at the flea market. Much like today when I go photographing, I think most of my peers and teachers wrote it off as just me doing my thing and let me about my way. There’s some pictures I could see me taking now, beneath the expected and posed ones. There’s some pictures where I don’t know what is happening, or who I was photographing at the time, where I’m at, or what season it is. I’m even fuzzy on the exact year. Why was I photographing at the time? Why was I doing it last week? Because we have to.
This unexpected lesson in the traits of photography as a medium, what it represents, got me thinking about its importance in regards to memory. Since some aspects of photography are memories, what happens when we don’t remember them? I’m slightly nostalgic, but it’s in a dense fog of layers, transposed with current images, their reasons, and reasons I took pictures six or seven years ago. I like to remember, but I can’t with these. What does this nostalgia mean? This grey area is very enticing.