WE35 is a nifty little project that I am taking part in. A brainchild of the Photo Frontier guys, Justin and Armando, it aims to build a team of researchers exploring the world within the confines of a 35mm lens. I know, saying we are researchers makes it look like we are engaged in something very serious and “sciencey”, but it’s actually a light-hearted attempt at having fun by means of setting up some goals and constraints and do something different as a consequence.
Every month, our fearless leaders give the researchers an assignment. We go out, try to complete the assignment (rigorously limiting ourselves to a 35mm or equivalent focal length), and submit the photos. A few days later, Justin and Armando publish a report of our findings.
For the month of February, our assignment was to pretend we were back to the days of film. We were asked to go out and shoot one roll of 36 exposures, sticking to one film preset, one white balance, one ISO value and, of course, a fixed focal length of 35mm. I said pretend, but some people used real film for this assignment.
Another catch was that we were not allowed to post-process our images, save for one, but were asked instead to present them in the form of a contact sheet.
Procrastinator that I am, I waited until the last day of the month to carry out my assignment, but I knew I was going to London on the 28th and I knew I would have had the biggest chance to shoot some interesting characters on that day.
I used three hours in the morning to just walk around with my X100S, loaded with an 8GB card that I had set aside for this purpose and set to JPEG mode. What I hadn’t anticipated was that I would have been so methodical in my shooting that, at the end of the three hours, I only had captured 24 images, Since 24-picture rolls were available way back then, I just pretended that was all I had in the camera.
What I had anticipated even less was that I would have met James Earl Jones disguised as a sightseeing bus tour valet. He told me
“Luke, I am your father” to make good use of the photo. I think I did.
Other interesting captures:
- The shy waitress from Starbucks. I told her I loved her glasses and could I please take her portrait? She acted shy for a bit, giggling with her colleagues, but then struck a nice pose for me.
- The lady with the orange hat and scarf at St. Paul’s. I told her I loved the color of her hat and asked for a portrait. She told me: “I was waiting for someone to ask me just that.”
- The three-cups-game players on Westminster Bridge. There was like a dozen of them on the bridge and I am sure they had accomplices looking out for the police, so I had to be sneaky and shoot from the hip, trying not to be noticed, hence the imprecise framing and strange angles.
- The hipsters of Soho.