I had a fun night with friends last night. We had steak with sauteed mushrooms, roasted potatoes and veggies with some cold keg IPAs. Then afterwards we played a few games of backgammon and cribbage. Lots of laughs when one of us won the game.
There’s no photo though. I usually bring a Fuji X100 which I can shoot on the quick, but last night I brought a Kodak Retina IIIC loaded with Ilford HP5 and set it on the counter as soon as I arrived and left if there the whole night. While we prepped dinner while standing around with appetizers. While we ate dinner. While we played games.
It just sat on the counter in its case. Loaded with black and white film. I saw some great expressions that if that camera was in reach, I’d have photographed.
But it wasn’t and I didn’t. I was enjoying playing games and being competitive, but I missed the shots. I missed the photo.
And today I miss the photo. All day today, the only think I can think about are those photos that weren’t made. That camera on the counter was like not having a camera at all. Out of reach is useless.
I am reading Allen Ginsberg Photographs, a monograph of his photographs of his friends and life in the 1950s with his fellow Beat poets. He photographed everything, many things quite ordinary but they were special to him, and portraits that resonate even today because of his famous cast of characters–Neal Cassidy, Jack Kerouac, Robert Frank. He made the shot, with the same Kodak Retina IIIC which is why I brought that camera.
Next time, it will be by my side, not cased on the counter. Even I, someone who takes a camera everywhere and knows how to shoot on the quick, stealthily, without interrupting an evening, can miss the shot if the camera isn’t out of its case, in my hands at the ready.
I did miss it this time. And this blank photo is all I have to show for it.