Not every picture we take is perfect. Especially when it comes to film. And because instant film is so expensive these days, it definitely hurts my heart when a photo doesn’t come out as I intended. They usually end up tossed to the side, and I quickly forget about them. I like to call them the “Untouchables”.
When you make a mistake with instant film, it’s a steep learning curve. If I’ve just spent $20 for 8 shots, I guarantee you I won’t make the same mistake again.
For one reason or another, the untouchables are imperfect in my mind. I’ve deemed them out of focus, too dark, too light, too many light leaks, not the perspective I was going for, the list goes on and on.
But for some odd reason, I don’t throw them away. I keep the untouchables. They are stacked around my studio, waiting patiently for me to revisit them. Almost calling me to see their beauty, in some way, shape, or form.
And maybe it’s time that makes all the difference. The time between me casting them aside, and the time it takes for me to really look deep and find the truth – that every picture, no matter the flaws, tells a story. They are not mistakes, they are simply my path to learning. We never learn anything if every shot comes out perfect.
The untouchable photos always remind me of social media. How only the highlight reel is reflected there. Very rarely do we share the mistakes we make along the way. I can admit that none of these photos made it to my Instagram account. But I have learned a bit more about photography and the quirks of certain film, from each and every one of these photos. They have helped me to learn something that I have put into practice to get the perfect shot. And those shots make social media. But had it not been for the untouchables, I certainly wouldn’t be the photographer I am today. Maybe we need to make ourselves a little more vulnerable, and share the images it took for us to get to where we are today.
The next time a capture doesn’t turn out the way you intended – simply pause and ask why. What can you learn from this? What can you put into practice? And is it really that bad?
What do you do with your untouchables? I’d love to know.