Capturing The Holidays On Film by Andrew McNown

Going back to childhood, it’s clear why I would strive to fix some of the impermanence of the holiday season. The moment school let out on the Friday before Winter Break, I spent the time off having fun with my family and friends, anticipating the next day and doing innumerable holiday activities. It would seem like I would blink and it was two weeks later and I was heading back to school. Because I was having so much fun, I forgot to stop and take a breath.

Now, as a part of a bi-holiday family and with a little one of my own, I have even more reason to want to preserve the holiday splendor. This, however, can be a slippery slope, falling into the habit of living through your camera. With a digital camera, it’s too easy to miss the emotion of the moment by taking a hundred pictures (or a video) and then spend the following five minutes reviewing what you just took. With film, I find there is a level of consciousness that goes into each exposure which not only limits my distracted time but also connects me more, emotionally, to my subject. I find I’m asking, why am I taking the picture I’m taking and what the emotion is behind it.

Regarding my experience with the aesthetic, rather than the process, of the medium, film preserves the emotion of the memory better. Perhaps it has something to do with seeing holiday photos from my childhood and those of my parents’ childhoods that links film photography to my emotional recall. Perhaps the physical nature of the medium plays into reliving feelings and that every exposure is something that exists in some form outside of ones and zeros. 

Though this relationship with film photography exists outside of the holidays, and forgive me for sounding trite or cheesy, but there really is something special about the holiday season. There is nothing wrong with capturing this season digitally, and it is far more important that everyone captures their memories how they feel comfortable. That said, and from my biased perspective, both the process and product of film photography lends itself to a greater and fuller recall.

All photos by Andrew McNown