More than a week since my Deep Summer Photo Challenge experience, I've had some time to reflect upon the entire experience, some of which I'd like to share with everyone. I've been asked about my theme/concept quite a bit since my show was projected onto the big screen along with 5 other amazing photographers during Crankworx. Getting invited to an event such as this is a huge honour and an opportunity to showcase your work in front of a crowd of fans but also your fellow peers, whom I respect so much. Knowing the stacked field that I would be up against, I felt that I needed to step up my game and do something drastic to make an impression. Considering that fact that it was the 10th Anniversary of Crankwork, I wanted to take people back to the past and reflect upon how much has changed in the biking and photography world not just in the past decade, but as far back as 40-50 years ago. When it comes to biking and photography, I'm one of those 'in betweeners', having ridden an old Kona hardtail and shooting film for a few years before dual suspension and digital images took over and left the 'analog' world behind. My connection with the past is very real but I was never as entrenched in it as some of the legends of the industry, who spent years shooting film and developing their own images in broom closet darkrooms. At Bike Magazine's 20th Anniversary party, I even spoke to a few legends who discussed having one fridge for food and another one just for film, which is a far cry from today's 'spray and pray' digital world. Using this idea as the base for my concept, I dove in head first and started formulating a plan. But first, I needed some cameras......
Instant Radification - Deep Summer 2013 - Bruno Long from Long Exposures on Vimeo.
No one can deny the fact that Instagram has become a huge influence in today's photography world. Almost everyone has a camera phone and access to the Internet in the palm of their hands. Everyone and their dog has an Instagram account these days (seriously, I know dogs who have accounts). Digital images are also being manipulated these days to have that 'old-school' feel and just about every camera phone app for editing your 'Insta-banger' has a filter named 'Lomo' or 'Diana'. You can also find a frame to put around your image that has film strips around the edges or makes it look like you shot it with a Polaroid. And yet, most people have no idea what Lomography
is, have never seen a Diana+ camera, and still think that shaking a Polaroid image makes it develop faster (it doesn't, as I found out for myself). Wanting to bridge the gap between the old school mediums while still staying in touch with today's world, I decided to shoot my Deep Summer show using a Diana+ medium format camera, which uses 120 film that gives the image a square Instagram look, a Polaroid Image Spectra camera that shoots 'wide' images with sonar autofocus, and my trusty Nikon D3s. I knew it would be a risky endeavour to try something so different but sometimes you need to risk it all in an effort to make something memorable.
In the months leading up to the competition, I could only practice using the two film cameras so much, with film and developing being expensive. Just to put it into perspective, I bought my Polaroid camera for $11 on ebay. I also bought a macro attachment for it, also $11 online. Pretty cheap right? Except now I needed film for it. With only one place in the world to get film for Polaroids now
, you have no choice but to buy from them. One package of film, with only 8 shots per pack, costs around $25. That's over $3 per image! Screwing up an image or wasting film is not an option. At least with the Polaroids, I knew within a few minutes if I had gotten the shot I needed. On the other hand, with the Diana+ film, I could only hope that I was getting the images I needed to convey the feeling I was looking to portray in my slideshow. With a midnight run to Vancouver in the middle of the competition to drop off the film to get developed and scanned at The Lab Vancouver
, I worried that if the images didn't pan out that my show would be an epic fail. And while it was a very stressful time, it also gave me some insight and perspective into the history of photography. We rarely, if ever, get the feeling of excitement and anticipation that comes with shooting film and not knowing what we will come of it. I can only imagine what it was like doing commercials shoots in the past where you only had a certain amount of film and developing budget to get what your employer wanted out of you. The stress and skill involved with photography in the past is what really makes the older generation of photographer truly legendary. I have an incredible amount of respect for you all.
In the end, I was lucky enough to have everything work out very well. Sure, there are some things I would change about the show now in retrospect, but hindsight is always 20/20. I am very proud of what I put together and I think that my vision/message came across more or less how I wanted it to. Big thanks for all my athletes for being patient while I scrambled around trying to make things work the way I hoped. Huge props to my assistant Jeff, who did everything I asked of him and so much more. And to my slideshow editor, Anthony Bonello
, I never would have been able to pull this off with you. You deserve as much praise as anyone else for this project. I'd also like to thank the Crankworx organizers for putting on such a great event and doing everything in their power to make things as easy as possible for all the teams. Cheers to you all!
Photography/Story: Bruno Long