Let it Develop 365: Abby

The plan for my participation in the Graincast “Let It Develop 365” project was simple enough. I'd take one photo of my daughter per month (12 total) on a 6x6 film back that held 12 exposures. The goal was to document our first year with her. The Bronica SQ-A would be the perfect camera for this project as I had additional backs that I could use while the other one waited for it's next "monthly" exposure.

Well...as simple as it all sounds, life always throws curveballs at you. I started in September of 2017 and made the first exposure. October and November went well and then BAM! December was the first mistake. Somehow the camera let me fire with the dark slide in. First mistake of the roll and it was one shot that I didn't want to miss (the Holidays!). I ended up taking the shot again (it was worth it) with the plan to skip January's exposure and call it even.

Well, when you skip one month, it becomes two. Then three. Then four. I skipped January, then missed February and March and then April. It was on the heels of a decision to actually sell the Bronica SQ-A that I accidentally kept the multiple exposure lever open (to test shutter speeds before the sale). When I finally did try to catch up on exposures, I ended up double exposing the last two frames because I forgot to switch the multiple exposure lever off.

After that, I threw in the towel. Too many hiccups, and there were a lot of responsibilities cropping up that were keeping me from being able to go out and shoot.

Long story short, my goal of seeing Abby grow up on this roll ended around July and her first birthday. I took the last six exposures that were left in one sitting and ended the 365 project early (mostly so I could sell the camera), but in all honesty, the project was still a bit of a success. Looking over the gallery below, I don't have the exact month to month transition that I wanted to, but I still get to see my beautiful daughter experiencing her first year of life. When I started this project, she couldn't even sit up on her own. Now we can't get her to sit still! It's amazing how quickly they grow up...

This is a project that may be worth repeating in the future, albeit with a bit more effort to actually hit the deadlines!

Below is the last of the “regular” blog post updates while the project was going on.
As you can see, I didn’t complete any entries after January - that whole “life getting in the way” thing!

Latest update: January 2018 (#3 and #4+ of 12). Read on to find out more...

Last month, my friends at Against the Grain came up with a fantastic idea - a 365 project, shot on film, that wouldn't show any developed shots for an entire year.

Usually with a 365 Project you'd show your progress as you go along, taking one shot every day and eventually ending up with 365 at the years end. It always seemed like a daunting process to me, and I know by the way that I personally shoot that I would begrudgingly force myself (on multiple occasions) to just get out and shoot a photo before the day was done. There would be a lot of photos of things that really wouldn't interest me - I'd only be shooting something to meet that "once a day" rule.

The "Let it Develop 365" project idea, however, mercifully lifts that restriction. In fact, it's a very wide open concept. Choose any film camera you own, shoot on any film you want, for as many exposures as you want, for an entire year. The only rule is: don't develop any of that film until September 2018.

Originally I was going to use my X-A2 and just shoot one roll of 35mm film. I was going to go for 24 exposures, or 2 exposures per month. But then, as fate would have it, a Bronica SQ-A medium format camera came into my life and at 12 exposures per 120mm roll (6x6 Square), I switched up my idea.

So now I have a plan: I'm dedicating one entire film back of 12 exposures to the subject in my life that is now the most photographed: my new daughter Abigail. Abby is 3 months old now, so by the time the project is over we will see a 1 year growth period of her life. I'll keep updating this blog post so that we can see notes on each shot of the 365 project, with the first of the 12 exposures being done in September of 2017 and the last of the 12 exposures being done in September 2018.  

My thanks again to the Against the Grain podcast crew for the great idea. Be sure to follow along with my project and all of the other participants via the Twitter hashtag #atg365.



September 2017 - September 2018
Updated monthly

September 2017 - Exposure #1
Portra 400, metered at 400, f/3.5 @ 1/125 on a Bronica SQ-A / Zenzanon-PS 80mm f/2.8

  • Abby, 2 months old, sits in her highchair. She may be looking at the camera, or perhaps at Amanda waving her arms behind me. We're trying to get Abby to smile, but my reflexes kick in and I fire as she looks into the lens. At least, I think she's looking into the lens. The capture takes my wife off guard. "I thought you wanted her to smile?" she asks. I'm just happy to have the shot in the can. It's September 30th and the light is waning. From here on out, all of my shots will probably fall on the back half of the month to show a more pronounced progression in Abby's age.



October 2017 - Exposure #2
Portra 400, metered at 400, f/5.6 @ 1/250 on a Bronica SQ-A / Zenzanon-PS 80mm f/2.8

  • Abby, 3 months old, sits on a bench at the once-a-year Pumpkin Patch at the Dallas Arboretum. It isn't easy to gauge when Abby was looking at the camera but I think I captured the moment she stared into the lens. Once again, a smile would have been nice, but with all of the commotion and with the help of Mom behind me to get Abby's attention, I'll be happy if the shot comes out even half as good as it looked!



November 2017 - Exposure #3
Portra 400, metered at 400, f/4.0 @ 1/125 on a Bronica SQ-A / Zenzanon-PS 80mm f/2.8

  • Abby, 4 months old, sits with Grandma and Yayo (Moms parents) in the backyard of their house in Florida. We were there for Thanksgiving. This marked Abbys first trip on an airplane and she was fantastic! Amandas parents saw Abby the week she was born, and this was only their second meeting. They remarked at how much she has grown in only four months, and that made me even more curious to see the results of this 12-month span of Abby's life on one roll of film.



December 2017 - Exposure #4 and Exposure #5 ( Two exposures? Explanation below... )
Portra 400, metered at 400, f/5.6 @ 1/250 on a Bronica SQ-A / Zenzanon-PS 80mm f/2.8

  • Abby, 5 months old, sits with Grandma and Grandpa (Dads parents) in the backyard of my brothers house in Virginia. This time, we were there for Christmas. Abby did very well on the airplane for this trip as well! This was only meant to be exposure #4 of 12, but lo and behold I made a rookie mistake. For some reason, the cable release would not fire the shutter. I pressed even harder and to my surprise, the shutter fired. Looking down I realized that I had made a critical error: the dark slide was still in the camera! For whatever reason, applying more pressure to the cable release somehow overthrew the interlock that prevented the shutter to fire and forced the camera to ignore the dark slide. That mean that exposure #4 will unfortunately be blank. But this photo of Abby at 5 months old with my parents was too precious of a moment to let up, and so this time I removed the dark slide and took the same shot. To compensate for this, I will have to skip exposure #5 in January of 2018, but for the final results I'll see about replacing the "dark frame" with a placeholder image of Abby from a similar timeframe. This is what learning is all about! Sometimes you have to roll with the punches


January 2018 - Due to the "Dark Slide Incident" of December 2017, the next exposure on this "Abby" roll might not be until February 2018. I will probably substitute another image from this month taken on a different roll to account for the missed exposure.