Have you ever returned from an amazing film photography excursion only to discover that you left your lens cap on? Or, maybe you developed a roll in the wrong chemicals or at the wrong speed? We have all been there. In my case, a few times. I was recently asked by Matt Parry of Matt Parry fame to contribute to a zine he made with David Allen celebrating film photography failures. The result is an elegant collection of photography failures called 2sic2spurious. I asked Matt a few questions about what inspired him to make a zine about failure.
GB: I love the idea of celebrating mistakes. I feel that social media encourages us to try and appear perfect when the most interesting aspects of photography for me is what I learn from mistakes. I noticed you left your lorem lipsum text on the cover. Is that to go with the theme of mistakes?
MP: That’s it. There is a lot all around us telling us everything must be perfect. And equally, personally, I am good at beating myself up if things go wrong. So I agree. We learn from our mistakes. Sometimes the mistakes are even better than the image would have been if it had turned out as planned. Yes, the Lorem text was Dave’s idea. The whole zine was meant to continue the theme of mistakes and errors. There are big chunks of the text, smaller bits as well as some real Latin now and again (thanks Google translate). Equally, the juxtaposition of the images and the general layout was fairly well thought out by us, but hopefully still keeps that feeling of error.
Going back to your previous point too, there is a quote from the Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky which nicely encapsulates it all:
I am a man because I err! You never reach any truth without making fourteen mistakes and very likely one hundred and fourteen. And a fine thing, too, in its way; but we can’t even make mistakes on our own account! Talk nonsense, but talk your own nonsense, and I’ll kiss you for it. To go wrong in one’s own way is better than to go right in someone else’s.
GB: Did you find that the submissions had errors in common or do we all go wrong in different ways?
MP: There was quite a variety. Accidental, multiple exposures, developing problems like colour shifts, light leaks, exposure issues. People really did go wrong in their own way. This made it both a bit harder – though far more interesting – to try to pair the images up.
GB: I tend to leave lens caps on and from my days with a 15mm I sometimes forget to focus. What are your common mistakes?
MP: Yes with rangefinders, I do that too. I’ve had issues with winding, many issues with double/overlapping exposures. A few with developing too. I once developed a roll of film from a trip to Iceland in 1:1000 instead of 1:100. The images were very very faint. Sigh.
GB: I kind of like the idea of super faint images of Iceland. Were any of the images salvageable?
MP: Yeah. They just about scanned. Though they were super duper grainy. Looked almost invisible on the negative.
GB: What has making this zine taught you about other people’s mistakes?
MP: I did learn that a lot of people make substantially less mistakes than me. I don’t know if that’s good or bad or what. But also, that pretty much everyone makes mistakes. Often really silly ones. But I think that’s all good. Let’s make more silly mistakes.
GB: How can I get a copy of this robustly elegant zine?
MP: You can get in contact with me @mparry1234 and order a copy.