Daily Archives: August 22, 2014

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My Possibly Impossible Birthday

Have you ever had a birthday that just did not go the way you wanted it to? My birthday was on a Wednesday this year, and weekday birthdays are difficult to make feel special (in my experience.) Yes, there’s usually a weekend birthday-related event, when people aren’t at work, but the birthday itself can be a let-down.

This year, I decided to take matters into my own hands. My sister was at work. My best friend was at work. So my mom decided to help make my birthday better. She wanted to know where she could take me so I’d feel like I was getting to do something that would make me “birthday happy” (that’s what I call it, anyway.) It might not seem like something that a person might choose as a birthday outing, but I told my mother that I’d like to go to Otherlands, a coffee shop in Midtown Memphis. I used to enjoy spending time there when I lived in that area of Memphis, and I knew that something about it would make me happy. I was right. The strong smell of coffee is probably overwhelming when you open the door of any coffee shop, but in my mind, the smell of Otherlands is unique and brings back memories from a very specific time in my life. I was able to sit, sip my coffee, download scans of my photos from England (!!!) and enjoy the Johnny Cash tunes that were playing over the speaker system in the coffee shop.

So why am I writing about this on my blog, where I share anything from wedding photos I’ve been hired to take, to random film camera reviews? The answer is: the second part of my “what would make you birthday happy” answer was “I want to take at least some photos today.” I had a pack of black and white 600 Impossible Project film, I loaded it in my Polaroid SLR 680, and I brought it along with me to Memphis that afternoon. I have a bad tendency to immediately reshoot a photo that I don’t think “turned out right” – which, when you’re using a pack of film with only 8 exposures in it can eat film up FAST! I’m no perfectionist, but if a photo doesn’t turn out the way I envisioned it, I feel compelled to try it again. So one of the things I was determined about was that I would not reshoot any photo that day. I’d just accept each photo as either a success or a fail. Either it worked or it didn’t. And here are the ones I decided were keepers.

“Cheer me up birthday coffee” and my handbag that I bought in England
Technically, this should have gone in the “Impossi-fail” pile. It’s a photo of my old apartment, which is close to Otherlands. We were driving around the neighborhood for old times’ sake, in case there was anything I wanted to photograph before we left the area. Mom told me that I should get out and take a photo. I didn’t think it’d be a big deal. I moved out of that place 3 years ago. But I actually got weirded out and ran out of the driveway as soon as I took the photo! So the fact that this looks kind of ghostly is appropriate, because standing in the driveway taking this photo felt like I’d seen a ghost! And yet, I’m somehow glad I did it

And this is where I fell in love with my Polaroid
This is at Easy Way, an iconic produce market chain in Memphis. I love it there. It’s like going into some country store on a dirt road in Arkansas to get your fruits and vegetables. And by “some dirt road,” I probably actually mean “My Papaw’s house.” He had a little farm in Crawfordsville, Arkansas, and the first time I went to Easy Way, it reminded me of going on his back porch and getting potatoes and other produce he’d grown there. This photo is of my mom picking out “the perfect golden delicious apple.” It just looked so good with her tattoo facing me that I made her pause so I could take the photo. Everything was perfect. And the exposure and focus were so perfect (for once!) that I fell in love with my Polaroid 680 the moment the photo developed.
Birthday me – arm length self portrait of the birthday girl
Birthday dinner. No beer. Just a menu and my mother.

So ends my “Possibly Impossible Birthday.” Except that I had another Impossible Project birthday outing later in the week that will be coming to your computer screens very soon.

Polaroid SLR 680 SE Impossible Project B&W 600 film, black frame July 30, 2014