WE ARE OUR FACES – That time I (accidentally) shot b+w film in Palm Springs

This trip was a meaningful time for us, because Mckenna had recently moved into her group home. Friends of ours invited us to stay with them, and we did a lot of nothing and just enough somethings. We found good food, cold lukewarm pools, good drinks, and nature. We slept in, played video games in our room while drinking coffee, and stayed up late playing backgammon, trying to figure out if gummy bears REALLY taste different or if the colors trick our brain. I had time under umbrellas with a long time best friend while she nursed her toddler, dark walks through the hotel grounds with my husband to the cacophonous sound of cicadas, and lounge-y romantic hammock hangs. Twas quite the dreamy time.


As mentioned in another post, I discovered an unknown black and white roll in my stash when I took film in to be developed last month.

“Sure enough, the black and white roll turned out to be the roll I shot in colorful Palm Springs. FULL OF COLOR Palm Springs. Where I shot specifically with all those colors in mind.  Could not be worse. Doomsday. Grieving certain shots I saw so vividly in color. Will share in another post. Along with the grief I am already laughing about this whole thing and sort of loving the results too, loving them FOR the mistake, for the lack of control I have. Loving that I can learn more about myself from the mishaps than the ones that easily make my heart beat harder.”

I legit grieve for that shot of the sky (blue) and the palms (green) and the block wall (white) and the bougainvillea (hot pink) and the trailer homes (pink), and also for the sunset bougainvillea leaves that had dropped onto the sunset grass. I feel totally ripped off because I remember certain shots so clearly, what I was moved by, and why I snapped the pic. AND I WANT THAT MEMORY TO HOLD IN MY HANDS. I have had to look at these with fresh eyes and let go of my expectation. Which is an important life lesson in general, and easier to practice on something like this.

When I did that, I saw shadows, lines, and shapes that I hadn’t noticed before. I dig the awkward feel of the flash hotel room photos. I love that it appears my husband is holding an old timey rifle when it is just a crack in the rock. I have come to love this group of photos in the same way I love the ugliest Noble Fir at Christmas. ‘I will love you even if no one else will. I will love you BECAUSE no one else will’. Maybe you will love them, too.

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  1. oh I get this. my heart panged… I KNOW THOSE COLORS that you though you were getting. I am painting them in in my brain for you.

    but some – the pool shots and the king’s highway ones especially – just SING in black and white. brava, Tara.

  2. I legit LOVE these photos, but I guess that’s easier to do without ever having seen the color. More importantly, I LOVE that you’re embracing the life lesson and loving these even while you grieve your color memories never realized on film. Right on sister. xo

  3. While I totally understand why you’re grieving the loss of the color and the shot you thought you had, these are freakin amazing shots! P.S. Hi! I’m Meg. Just thought I should say hi and not be a weirdo stalker that never says anything!

  4. I looked at the photos before I read your words, and I loved them. I didn’t need colour to feel that way – they were beautiful and interesting without it. Your words, I WANT THAT MEMORY TO HOLD IN MY HANDS, it caught my breath. It’s how I feel all the time.

  5. It looks like you went to Palm Springs in 1964! I love these even though I can understand your heartbreak for what they are not. Now you will have to hold the memories of those colors in your brain and then when you hold the photos in your hand, the memory of the colors will come back stronger than if they were printed in front of you. It’s something those of us who grew up in the age of color don’t have to do with our old photos, but interesting to consider what our parents and grandparents are thinking when they look at an old black and white photo.

    I have been learning to see in black and white after doing the B&W challenge that’s been doing the rounds, but this is such a great experiment that would be hard to replicate if you knew you were shooting B&W film. This collection would be a great teaching aid for anyone learning about black and white photography.

    Sorry, long comment but these images are fascinating!

  6. Shooting in b&w is akin to your discussion of whether gummy bears are differently flavored, or if our minds trick us! There is extreme beauty in those photos, despite your mind telling you the colors were really important! Love them!!

  7. I REALLY LOVE these B&W photos, the lack of color give Palm Springs a whole new dimension. I would have looked at these photos and thought that you intentionally used B&W film, they are fabulous. I hope you will give us an update on how McKenna is doing in her new group home.

  8. These are beautiful images, I love the pool ones in black and white but I know the struggle when they don’t meet your vision. It’s hard to settle when you pictured something else in mind.

    An equally funny mistake…I had a friend shooting an architectural job and at the end of the shoot he realized he had been shooting with NO film! He immediately said to the client “excuse me, I need to run inside and grab one more shot” and quickly re-shot the location. Luckily he was still able to capture some beautiful work but nearly dodged a bullet by realizing he never loaded the roll of film into his camera!!!!

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