Decisions. Some are small. Some are life-changing. We make them subconsciously. We make them intentionally. But either way we choose a path. There’s always an upside and always a downside. Most importantly, we look for promise in the upside, and we try and glean some value from the downside, but we can never escape the moment of decision.
Seize the opportunity
In the fall of 2019, I had to decide whether to say yes to a guy’s trip to Wyoming with my dad and his buddies. My life is busy. Three young kids, work, life, bills. However, it’s hard to get away for a week, but I decided to say yes. I had to seize the opportunity to go with my dad. He’s at the age where trips like this are not a necessarily a guarantee for “next time”.
Saying yes in 2019 was one thing; but then I had to decide again as the pandemic upended our lives. Flying was still an unknown risk at that time and there was no vaccine. We were all weighing the risk reward of even going to the grocery store, much less a trip out of town. Therefore, I decided that the time with my dad was too important to miss. So I said “yes” again a few weeks before we were scheduled to go.
A big decision
Now, planning and packing for the trip, I had another big decision to make. . . as an amateur photographer. Film or digital?
Now that was big decision for me! I weighed the options while I loaded an extra-large duffle with warm clothes and socks. Digital would mean no worries about TSA ruining my film. I can see what I have the moment I shoot the photo. I can upload to my phone and share on social media immediately. But the dynamic range gave me pause. The feeling that the photos might not last made me uneasy. I’m not a big believer in anything permanent about digital items. There would be no printing in my darkroom for years to come, no reliving the trip through the magic of a tangible, fiber-based wet print. Film would be permanent. Forever. Or as close as we get to that here on earth. Printing. Tones. Grain. Risk. All the things I love about film.
Now I bet many of you are thinking “why not take both?” Well of course that’s an option, but that’s not my personality. I love making a call and going for it hell or high water. I love the dedication to a path and then not looking back.
Physical over theoretical
In the spirit of why I said yes to this trip, to make a memory with my dad, I decided to take photos that were worthy of the moment.
I chose film.
I chose the option of printing 30 years from now while I’m leaning on a walker and the beauty of the moment coming alive again long after my dad is gone. I chose the ability to hold these memories in my hand and not the hope that the hard drive turns on again years from now.
I chose the physical over the theoretical. And, when I had to decide which film to take? Well that choice was easy. ILFORD. The look. The consistency. The ease of use. The ability to print with lots of contrast and loads of detail. I packed my photo bag with my Leica rig and a big ziplock full of ILFORD. Willing to pause for TSA to hand-check my valuable cargo.
I said yes to my dad. I said yes to film. I said yes to ILFORD. And I haven’t regretted any of these decisions for one second.
Images © Nathan Chapman
About The Author
Three-time Grammy awarding winning producer and songwriter Nathan Chapman is a rarity in Music City; he was born and raised right in Nashville. Only son to two working musicians Nathan began playing drums and guitar at age three, sang on his first commercial album at age six, and was recording music by the time he turned fourteen.
It is no surprise he wound up making music his living; what is surprising is that he would produce a multi-platinum selling album on a brand new artist, Taylor Swift, his first time at bat. All five of Taylor’s albums have solidified Nathan’s place among the great producer/artist combinations in music history and he hasn’t stopped there. Since then he’s had 17 number ones as a producer. Nathan credits his love of songwriting and songwriters as the main ingredient which drives his production work. That fondness for the craft shows in his over 40 major label cuts as a songwriter. His first number one as a songwriter was “Homegrown Honey” by Darius Rucker and cowritten with Darius Rucker and Charles Kelley. He’s currently in the studio with Jenna Raine, Callista Clark, Karley Scott Collins, and Tenille Arts working on their upcoming albums and writing songs for Warner Chappell and Jody Williams Songs.
Insta – @nathanchapmanofficial
Twitter – @painintheart