A wall, corrugated concrete, three sections at angles to one another. Simple. Or complex?


I have walked by this wall on my Saturday morning walks, every week for a few years. I’ve seen it change over and over again … from flat concrete marked with graffiti, to painted over, to this new construction again marked and painted, marked and painted. It remains stolid, simple, yet …
A month or two ago I pulled out one of the old compact 35mm cameras that had been languishing in a drawer for many years. Looking at it I thought, “Hmm, I’ve got a ton of old film in the drawer that’s way out of date, and bunches more in the freezer … I guess I should use it up…” and my ‘shoot a roll of film every week or so until gone’ project was born. I take out one of my old cameras, whichever piques my interest on a day, throw whichever roll of film comes to hand into it, and shoot with that setup exclusively until I finish the roll of film.
It proves fun. This week’s pick was one of my old favorites, a black Rollei 35S that I’ve owned for a couple of decades, filled with an ancient roll of Ilford 400 Delta at least four years out of date. I carried it with me from Friday until Sunday; the bulk of the exposures I made were at the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco on Sunday. Amazing that 36 exposures can take three days to consume.
Working with the Rollei 35 again brought to mind the discussion on the forums last week. ‘Can the camera change the way you see, what you do with your photography?’ Yes, and no, and yes … The Rollei 35 has nothing automatic, nothing to help you focus, just a simple meter and the barest minimum of aperture, shutter, focus. No way to see what you shot, to ensure that you caught what you wanted. At the same time, it has nothing to get in the way of your thoughts.
Shooting with it, one lives in the future and in the present simultaneously. You give up knowing for hoping. You give up aid and accept the consequences of your settings. Is it simpler? or more complex?
I love this wall. I’ve photographed it many times. This is one of my favorite photos of it. Did this camera help me?
Yes, and no, and yes …? At least it didn’t get in the way.