Here’s what you don’t know about B&H Photo. They have food stands to keep you there. Restrooms and food stands. Free Coke, seltzer and lots of pretzel nuggets. And sugar, bowls filled with hard candies on nearly every corner. They’re not dumb, fueling you full of stimulants. Shop, shop, damn it, shop! If you know what you want, you can walk right up to a man, wait for a cue, “I’m listening,” then bark your list, he types, you’re done. A green plastic basket is then awaiting your arrival at checkout. 5 minutes flat. I went in control this time. In and out, easy. Going to B&H Photo is a little like grocery shopping when I’m hungry. Before going next time, I’ll check my Amex balance first, maybe print it out and pocket it.
Today I went with a list. The list was strict and written on a folded index card in black pen. No pencils here. I brought with me every bit of camera equipment that I own, pulled over my shoulder, just incase I questioned straying from the list. The weight of it all would keep me questioning any reckless purchase. 105 Macro lens was third on my list, but definitely the most expensive item. Fujipress 800, Kodak HIE, 105 Macro lens, 500w EBW bulbs (2) with brackets, gold/silver reflector card. What I left with: 81A Amber filter for a 62mm, Fog Filter 62mm, Close-up filter kit of 3, Filter Case, 105 Macro lens, and all the film, plus two more. $570.79 bill in hand, 2 hours later. Okay, sure, I rationalized that the new digital camera that I just spent $2,000 on would save me money in the long run, right, no more film to buy or develop. Wrong. With a digital camera, you feel like you’re cheating. Photoshop it up if it’s not what you hoped for. It’s like re-writing an old story with a few strokes of a red pen. It doesn’t count; it’s not original.
All week I was somehow too busy to shoot for my photography class… the one that meets on Monday nights. Assignment: to shoot 2 rolls of film in the style of your favorite movie or movie director. The problem, of course, with this assignment is that I have too many favorite movies, yet none of them seem classic. The one movie I recalled as being beautifully shot is Unfaithful. Modern crops, some grain, good aperture. The trick is not picking a movie just because it’s beautiful. I certainly can’t replicate Antarctica, Africa or Thailand. It’s about replicating style, not subject matter. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, too cliché. I came home and watched Unfaithful until it was time for “Sex and the City.” Then I cried. I want babies.
So that leaves Monday afternoon for my photo shoot. Hello Grand Central Terminal. Unless any of you have any good ideas… “I’m listening.” Here’s where I ended up, an homage to Pleasantville.