This I Believe

Natt - Bangkok, Thailand
Entered on June 4, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

A Life Lesson from Film Photography

I always ask myself why I have to stay after school in a dark room. It is quite true what my friends have said: the photography class I am taking this semester is a torment. Despite the time required in the class, I have to spend twice as much time after the class to finish my work on time. For me, taking photos is not too hard. The tough part is a labored process of transforming a film into photos. To get one photo, I have to carefully take my film out of its container in a room with no light, develop it under strict instruction, wait for it to dry for an hour, print out a test stripe to see how many seconds I should expose a paper to light, print out a photo, reprint again and again until I got a dustless one, and wait for another hour for a final product to dry.

Back to the question: what is the point to my taking this class? Surely it is not to boost my grade or just to fulfill a school requirement. Surely it is not to learn to become a great film printer. And surely it is not so much to improve my film photography skill because, except for working for this class, I rarely use a film camera, just a digital one.

The question was answered just recently. Since last year, I have stayed at my uncle’s apartment during my spring breaks. My uncle, who is a doctor, was so busy with his work that he could rarely come home. Therefore, I had to live by myself for most of the time. The year before, I tried to avoid doing any job I considered inconvenient. For example, when I was hungry, I ate left-over food like salad or sausages from a refrigerator in order to avoid doing any cooking. However, this year was totally different: I tried to accomplish those inconvenient jobs. After trying different ways of opening a canned food item for about twenty minutes, I finally could eat the delicious corned beef inside. After turning my rice into a burnt rice cracker, I finally had edible rice on my plate on the second try. After creating several weird combinations of food, I finally had signature dishes that I want to show to my friends. I believe that this endurance and achievement are the result of the torment from my photography class. The class has taught me an important life lesson: life is not always easy, and, to achieve a better life, I have to endure its torment.