Saturday, October 15, 2011

Grain in Analog by Max Schmige

When I went to Grain for the Re-Evolution event, one of the people I traveled with was Max Schmige, Director of Photography for Manufacturing Stoke.

Max is originally from Berlin but studied cinematography at the American Film Institute Conservatory. Max is pretty fresh out of school but has already done some amazing work. He is one talented lens-smith and did an unreal job with Manufacturing Stoke.

When I heard Max was coming I was excited as I thought he would bring some goodies on the trip to get some great images. I pictured him showing up with all kinds of digital cameras for us to play with.

When we got on the trip I found out he left all his digital equipment at home and brought a bag of film cameras instead. Since I have come into this photography world in the digital age I really hadn't had much experience with a real photographer and the process by which they shoot film. Hanging with Max was an education.

Now that 99.99% of us have switched to digital we take for granted the virtually unlimited pics we can take in one day without the need to reload or spend money and all the built in light meters, auto-focus, auto everything.

To say the least shooting with analog is a completely different experience. For example while I walk through a room taking frame after frame, shooting as I please without a worry of running out of shots, Max would set up and literately take 20 minutes a single shot. Finding the joy in every aspect of the process as he would test his light, set his camera and agonize over the perfect composition. All while  knowing he had limited film to get his best work.

During the trip the ongoing question was "Where's Max?". That was because as we went through our day Max would slip away and get caught up in a moment in light and space and have a blast shooting that one perfect shot.

As the trip progressed we all would check out shots on our laptops and get our accustomed instant gratification. It sort of felt like Max was missing out a bit at the time as we could all see our work and feed off it.  But when I looked at Max while were were doing this he wasn't concerned at all. He was like a kid waiting for Christmas knowing that the best part of the gift was the anticipation. The knowing you did your best and the excitement of opening that package from the film processor to see if you really do know your stuff.

At the end of the trip we all went our separate ways and frankly I forgot all about Max's photos. Like the rest of us my mind went on to the next thing and then next thing grinding through this world of next things.

That was until I got an email from Max from a file sharing site that had no text just a download. When I opened the folder of images I was pleasantly surprised to see Max's work and the reminder that paying attention and waiting for the outcome is fun and does pay off.

Thanks Max for that lesson.

The above images where all shot at Grain by Max on a old Canon with God knows what settings. Maybe he'll fill us in. The rest of the trip is waiting to be scanned and I can't wait (as usual) to see them all. Will I ever learn.

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