At the time I took I this was thinking about alchemy – how film photography is like making bread the old-fashioned way. That’s sourdough bread rising in the tin – just flour and water and a little salt. Except that’s not the whole story – there’s a starter in there, just flour and water and whatever natural yeasts were in the flour, water and air at the time I decided to make the starter. And given the right conditions, flour and water can take on the form of bread.
In the demijohn – that’s gorse and dandelion wine, or it will be some day soon. Just a few flowers picked by hand and mixed with water and sugar and some wine yeast. Over time, the bright bubbling mixture will clear and calm. One day it will be wine, but not today. (The recipe says that the gorse and dandelion mixture is something like alchemy – making more together than either one on its own).
So with film photography, there is silver and there is light and there is an idea. But there is a whole process to go through to get to the end result – there is developing and drying and printing or scanning.
Whichever way, it’s a process, and at the start you don’t know how it will turn out. You don’t know if it will turn out at all. But you have a starter – an idea – and you feed it, and let it bubble and ferment. You work on it, like you knead dough and slowly it begins to take shape.
So you leave it alone for a while, let the idea prove in a warm spot at the back of your mind, and you go back to it and see it has grown or cleared and finally, after patience and with practice you know when it is done.