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there is always something (why I shoot film)

There are maybe ten shots left on the roll. Outside the metro, a collection of pigeons sit on minuscule ledges above two old men. They talk as all old men do, with operatic waves of their hands, sour expressions, belly laughs, eventually scratching their chins as they stare off at nothing in particular. I am pretending to take pictures of something near them, then swing across when they are not looking to shoot a few frames. At one point I surrender to the afternoon and move on.

And now, the courtyard that leads to the film lab. A great old building rests here, a school of architecture where students mill around dressed in black sucking on cigarettes with giant portfolios tucked under their arms. A young man approaches me. I am ready to tell him I have no idea what he is saying, but he wants to know where the film lab is. I jut my chin, telling him the door is just beyond a few bushes. He nods his thanks.

There are screens set up in a jagged line, sheathed in filthy white plastic to …

where (part 2)



It is raining, the sky a green, gray marshmallow. E has been on vacation for a week. I finish work early, and tell her to get dressed. The cameras are tucked into my bag. Extra film and a light meter all find their places. E slings her camera across her shoulder, bringing it with her. 

Outside, the street is shiny. We pull our collars close to our necks. I point towards the main road with a glance and she nods. There is a bus stop, and I take pictures of the people behind the milky windows of the trolley bus for that moment when the doors slosh open and then thwack shut. We start downhill, towards the river. Sometimes I stop, waiting for the right old woman to creep past us. Sometimes E stops, fascinated with a railing on a bridge, or a view that swings wide as we pass some dead trees. There are no words, just nods and looks, but I cannot help but smile at her.

We are under the bridge, dark and heavy as it reaches across the green water. 

There is the aftermath of a car accident, a very common sight here where people treat the road and other drivers like fantasies until they smack into a railing or a bumper, or a person. A man is running across the six lane street, and I get one frame of him with the crumpled white Range Rover in the background. Maybe that is something, I tell myself.

We have walked almost 2 miles, and tuck into a Georgian place for lunch. We order khinkali, giant dumplings stuffed with beef and pork and chili and black pepper. They are full of a sort of broth they create, so eating them is a balancing act, a dance between slurps and guesses and then forcing the remainder into your mouth. E eats them with the unrushed grace of an old man, not a drop on the plate. 

Later, she will show me the pictures she takes. One is of me in my long, dark coat under the bridge. That is how she sees me, I realize. My cheeks flush. 

We will bring the film to the lab the next day, and pick it up a few days later. 

She hovers behind me as I scan them. She nods, saying "yes, I know. I was there" with no more than her chin on my shoulder. 







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