Photo Exploration: The Accident, August 2011

When do we not mess up? When have we shot a per­fect ses­sion, had every frame on the roll be per­fect, knocked every com­po­si­tion out of the park? I’d say…never. Each roll, or each fold­er, con­tains at least one not-quite-there image. Some­thing that need­ed adjust­ing. A bit of a mis­take that we corrected.

What about the acci­den­tal pho­tos? I know I take plen­ty of pho­tos that I have no inten­tion of real­ly car­ing to uti­lize, but rarely (I think) do I take some­thing gen­uine­ly on acci­dent. But some­times I leave that lit­tle shut­ter lock dial set incor­rect­ly and before I know it I have an extra image. Occa­sion­al­ly I’ll real­ize the mis­take but often it is a sur­prise until I get the images devel­oped (or loaded onto the computer).

With film it is espe­cial­ly frus­trat­ing to have that occur as there are some pret­ty hard lim­its with film. You can’t dial down the size of the image to squeeze more space out of the mem­o­ry card with film, and you can’t delete images on the fly to free up some mem­o­ry. When it is exposed, it is exposed forever.

Hence, we have this image:

"The Accident" Canon A-1, 50mm lens. Ilford Delta 400

“The Acci­dent” Canon A‑1, 50mm lens. Ilford Delta 400

I believe it is a set of bicy­cle han­dle­bars — the next frame has a prop­er­ly exposed image of that sub­ject. I don’t recall if this was blur­ry because it was too long an expo­sure and I moved slight­ly or if it was a real­ly short expo­sure and I was sling­ing the cam­era around. Regard­less, it’s motion and blur and a lit­tle bit of form all rolled into one.

It’s not a hor­ri­ble image, it is at least exposed prop­er­ly. If I had cho­sen to do this sort of image, I would have framed it a lit­tle fur­ther down to get more of the bike. But tak­ing it for what it is, I have grad­u­al­ly got­ten attached to it.

But why keep it in the first place, before I’d had a chance to devel­op a fond­ness for the image? Par­tial­ly because once the film is devel­oped, it is basi­cal­ly free scan and store the image along with all the oth­ers. But most­ly to remind myself that if an acci­dent does hap­pen to con­tin­ue the ses­sion, to fill the roll, to not get too shak­en or frus­trat­ed by the mis­take. To always remem­ber that what is cur­rent­ly con­sid­ered an acci­dent may one day be trea­sured along­side all the pur­pose­ful creations.