Recently a good friend (and restorer of beautiful fountain pens) Stacy Hills dropped me a message to say he was moving to California and would I like his father's Pentax MX. When it arrived in it's hard case it was a magical moment to open, after a Zorki rangefinder and Russian Zenit SLR a Pentax MX was my first serious camera. Taking it out of the case felt like picking up a first love 30 years later to find that she hasn't changed a bit, my surprise was amplified that it had exactly the same strap as mine.
It took me back, to my first real steps in photography, from Kodacolor, to Kodachrome, then processing my own film and printing with Ilford FP4/HP5 and Ektachrome, it stirred a longing to return to film photography sometime soon as a hobby beside my commercial digital work, to the smell of chemicals, the magical feeling of opening the developing drum and first sight of the negatives through to those first test prints. The feel of what seemed a tiny body beside my Nikons, the simplicity of it's control set up to the multitude of dials and buttons on a modern camera, how tiny the lenses are.
More than that it took me back to photographing butterflies in our garden, bikes and cars racing at Cadwell Park, vacations, experiences and going around the world with me first to the US and then Hong Kong before it was finally replaced with an MZ. It seems strange how an object can evoke all those memories flashing through my mind in what was just a few seconds. At some point very soon it will come out of the case, have some film wound onto the spool and new memories created, a return to the old ways.
You might have noticed a new addition to the menu on my website, "Personal Projects". More and more I see the value of doing these, to satisfy my own urge to take pictures for myself, an avenue to meet and work with people I would not have done so otherwise and with the new one "100 Days, 100 Portraits" to challenge and push myself. It was surprising how quickly it first became difficult to schedule, it certainly forces small, consistent working to become a habit, but more so to start not wishing to repeat myself, to not just take the same picture of a different person, it's forcing me to look at portraiture differently, away from a headshot style to creating something more introspective of each person. At 25 or so pictures in I cannot wait to sit back at 100 and see the growth !
I've seen others recently embarking on similar challenges - 100 days of writing, 100 days poetry, or songwriting, I'll put this out there for people to leave in the comments, what small thing would you want to do for 100 days to make a habit/learn/change/grow ?