December 15, 2016: mistakes and perfectionism in film photography

I'm the kind of person who prides himself on being right all of the time.  This isn't a positive character trait.  It's the reason I'm prone to be overly argumentative in debates, overly defensive when critiqued, and overly embarrassed when I goof up.

Anyhow, I've made many mistakes already during my nascent journey into the world of film photography.  As a cathartic exercise in humility, I'm going to list a bunch of them here.  (There are more, I'm sure.)

I exposed most of a roll of 35mm film while trying to learn how to load and operate my Argus C3.  When I realized what I'd done, I decided to wind the film back into the canister so I could reuse it to test other cameras.  I rewound the leader by accident, wasting the roll completely.

I sent multiple packs of Fujifilm Instax Wide film through multiple airport scanners during a multi-stage flight to Croatia.  The outside of the boxes explicitly warn against exposing the film to x-rays.  As a result, most of my shots from that trip were seriously fogged.

I loaded a Fujifilm Instax Wide film pack incorrectly flipped into my first Fujifilm Instax Wide 300.  This damaged the ejection mechanism that pushes the film through the camera's rollers.  The camera was rendered unusable, but that didn't stop me from burning through a few more (expensive) packs trying to convince it to work.

I ruined a Lomography Light Painter by disassembling it out of curiosity.

More than once, I opened a camera that contained undeveloped film.  Some shots were completely overexposed when I got them back from the lab.

I loaded a Canon A-1 with 35mm film without ensuring that it was advancing properly when I wound the lever.  I "shot" that entire roll on the same frame.  I didn't realize my error until I "advanced" the film far, far past the maximum number on the camera's counter.

I broke the latch that holds the film door closed on a perfectly operational Polaroid SX-70.  I ignorantly pulled the door open rather than using the release lever on the side of the camera.

I wish I could say that I've taken these errors in stride.  For the most part, though, I've spent minutes or even hours lamenting each one.  I desperately want to be viewed by others as competent.  Gaffes like these bring that dream crashing down.

I haven't seen much progress in this arena lately.  This problem only compounds as I invest more of my self-worth in my photographic output.  On the bright side, I'm becoming more aware of this tendency.  Maybe honest confessions like this one and concerted efforts to see missteps as learning opportunities will get me out of my perfectionist rut.


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