Christina Mallet: A Happy Accident

In last week's Friday Favorite's post, I mentioned that I was inspired to do a "Happy Accident" theme do in part to the awesomeness of a botched roll of black and white film developed by our own Christina Mallet. So, I thought it would be fun to share those photos and let Christina tell you all what she did, what went wrong, and why she loves them anyway. Let's here it for happy accidents! Woohoo!!

-Sandra

From Christina:

Dear Dandy Sandy,

You know, I'm sort of aimless since I got rid of the studio. With no official place to shoot clients, I find myself without any. I knew this would happen but hey, taking risks is the only way to make changes, even if it does hurt the ego. Since I have full-time child care (a remnant of the studio era), which by-the-way makes me feel like a dirty rotten something or other, I find myself searching for something to do. I've comtemplated sowing wheat, learning to train draft-horses (I hear they are really sweet and like big St. Bernards, but with the power to kill), making my own clothes, etc. All that just won't work because when you pull the rug out from under yourself, you really find out what you're made of and me, well, I'm made of pictures.

As a photog with nothing but time to shoot my own interests, I've found this new found freedom is eating me alive. On my bucket list has always been developing my own film, even though I know I don't have the temperment or attention to detail (or chemistry) to do this properly. But, as you know, I'm sort of a bull dog and I have to try everything for myself. Anyway, after picking Xander up from skateboarding camp, I bribed him with lunch out where ever he wanted, if he would do what I wanted for 16 exposures. We did and he did and then I did what I probably shouldn't have... I developed the film myself.

Loading medium format film onto a tank reel, allthewhile wearing the equivalent of a mobile dark room is akin to wearing a garbage bag and is nothing more that a huge pain in the posterior. I started to sweat and get anxious while wrestling that film--Helena was due to wake up from her nap, at any moment, and Melissa stepped out briefly. Just as soon as I got my film all unraveled in side my darkroom-on-my-lap-bag, guess who woke up, yup. And she had a problem in her pants that required my hands but my hands were doing the equivalient of rice paper oragami while blindfolded in 90 degree heat. So, Helena waited, as I sat on her floor trying to avoid cramming the stuipid film on the reel. But then, Kiki, the little girl who comes over for a nanny share, woke up, and Melissa hadn't yet returned. There were now two pants problems and one film problem to contend with--we all sat on the floor and they watched me try to tame the thing that had swallowed my arms, which must have been a bit unsettling for them.

When Melissa returned it was alchemy and diaper showtime

The developing didn't seem to have any major problems, but thinking this was one of my problems. It turns out that my film was askew on the reel and there were spots where the film overlapped--this is why the images you see below are a so 'unconventional' (read: messed up). But Sandy, I love these images, is this wrong?

If our photog peers saw this stuff they would likely spit out their drinks, from shock and awe. If I posted these on Facebook I would see something like "this post has been seen by 50 people" and then "2 people liked this post" which would mean that 90% of the people hated my post. This would crush my newly fragile and aimless self, plus it would further my dislike of the book of face.

But here's the deal: with the studio era wrapped up, I've been trying new approaches to personal work, in an effort to find myself a project and make art. This epic developing screw up is the first time I've looked at my personal work and been genuinly compelled to look more. I can make pretty pictures with perfect exposures and compositions but I am neither perfect or composed and so I never love that kind of work by me. I can do pretty, but authentic is so much more compelling.

Being that I'm drawn to unstructured and fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants artistic efforts, I find that these images of Xander encompass so much of my imperfect character, while still being beatiful.

Beauty is not perfect. Life, art, work, and relationships are a process and none are perfect, yet they are still worthwhile and their imperfect beauty abounds. And with that, I'm embracing these screw-ups.

What say you?