With all things great about the process of shooting with film, the dreadful occasional human mistakes, are the inevitable downside. Halfway into shooting an assumed roll, I happened to glance down at the back of my camera and see empty black in the little plastic window. I was dumbfounded. “Is there seriously no film in my camera!?” I open it up and immediately load in film I even had on me the last few days. A life lesson that increasingly seems more and more important: “never assume anything”. Gaining experience in photography teaches me to always be more and more prepared. Always double, triple check. Bring a little more than you think you need. Be prepared.
I felt embarrassed, but more importantly saddened to not have the pictures I made on that imagined roll of film. I still remember the frames in my mind. It’s easy to fixate on those lost photos. Thinking of how great they could have been. And the opposite to try to make me feel better haha (maybe they were bad, and could discard the situation). But being positive and having an open mind is how to persevere and come out stronger. What I learned from this event may be more important than the photos I would have made. Photography is not just about the photos. It is more than the camera, film, or the subjects. It’s about the process and about doing. Creating doesn’t always have to include a final product. Just the act of photographing, produces valuable experience. I love the process of shooting on film because of this reason: it splits the act of making the photograph and producing an image. This was by no means the first time I lost a photograph, especially due to film (although it's happened digitally too) but it never gets much easier. Those photos are gone forever.
I do think about that fashion photographer I heard of who would shoot a blank roll or two before even putting film in his camera. It makes me think of the importance of not being too precious about any one picture. There are always more photos to take.
But these harsh events speed up and force learning and growth. I can think of two other times I completely botched rolls of films and the reasons are etched in my mind. And now something as simple as making sure there is film in my camera, will be in my mind. Photography always humbles me. No matter how long someone has been shooting, no matter how much experience, a great photographer always must be aware.