So I've had a mantra or two for myself as I walked down this new path with film. One mantra, hold it lightly, I use for a lot of things. A lot. And I'll circle back around to it another day. When I forget it, things go screwy. But the other mantra is that this, all this here in the beginning, is batting practice.
Cal has hitting lessons twice a week, so batting practice is a common, actual thing around here, not just an analogy. It's an easy leap for me to take. Easier for me to imagine myself in batting practice than say, piano lessons. We like music, but no one's taking lessons or practicing scales in this house. Neel's picking the ELO station on Pandora or always turning to the Grateful Dead station on our Sirius doesn't count.
And I guess to me, batting practice means doing what you do, over and over again. Taking the balls that are pitched to you and trying to hit them. Standing in the same stance, over and over, trying to perfect technique. There's no game pressure. There's no one really watching. Just me and the pitches thrown my way.
The other key, I think, is low expectations. Just shooting to learn, and in order to do that, I used cheap, consumer grade film (purchased and then developed at my local drugstore) and tried to shoot all the things I generally shoot. Fast balls, curve balls, knuckle ball, slider. The ocean. My river. Food. Flowers. My family (beagle). (I did take a lot of pictures of my people too, but that's a post for another day.)
I've had a few set-backs recently. It was inevitable, I guess. And I do want to talk about them here, because, as usual, the things I'm learning here apply to so many parts of my life, not just photography or learning a new skill. And when I felt that set back, what did I do? Got back to batting practice. Swing after swing, over and over again. Learning to read the balls as they come my way. Shot after shot. Learning to understand film and light and how they all work together. Learning different film stocks and meter readings and taking notes.
At my photo group last week, we talked about what personal projects we're taking on to help us grow this year. Big picture (see what I did there?), of course I'm tackling film. But I have smaller, specific projects on deck too. I've been trying to figure how to incorporate film into those projects, and I keep coming back to just shoot more film. A lot of women I know have the goal of a roll a week, and that seems really laudable. Maybe even doable. It's all about batting practice, baby.