Tom MacWright

Roll 1

Landscapes around the Bay Area always look windy in photos, even if it wasn’t windy at the time.

Third Street is near the crease between the Financial District and Tenderloin, and Union Square. Passages from Cool Gray City of Love tend to fill my mind when I walk through the disjointed neighborhoods on Market, thinking about the intersection of revitalization, destruction, displacement, and livability. Read Kamiya’s writing on it, which tells the story of how, amongst other points, the oft-maligned Tenderloin is a victory for anti-displacement activists.

We hiked San Bruno. From the top, you can see Cow Palace. A pretty good view of SFO. And this - a gated community of identical castle-like homes in Daly City. It could be worse, from a land-use perspective: each home is a multi-occupancy condo. But when I read critiques of apartment architecture, this is what comes to mind. Is this what we want?

The only photo from Las Vegas that made the cut. But it accurately captures what I remember from the city: impossibly wide highways; a dated unreality; architectural novelty without vistas for it to be experienced.

The second roll only had six surviving photos. I’m not sure why – some mishap with winding, or maybe the XA-2 has a dead battery for a while. This photo is ancient, having lived in an undeveloped roll for over four years, surviving three moves.


I no longer feel any fondness for the so-called rule of thirds. More often than not, I want to put the subject in the dead center of the frame. You and I know what the photo is about.

The anticipation of getting film back from the shop is multilayered. An old camera like my XA-2 could’ve broken since the last roll. I spent weeks once shooting with a beautiful Yashica Electro 35 just to get back a dud roll. Then there’s the content. I shoot film sporadically and develop it even more rarely. So a roll might has a photo from my band’s tour, over three years ago, or from a past relationship. And then level on the subverted expectations of Instagram: more than once a friend has asked whether I was in a city when I post a photo from it, just to learn that the images are from months or years ago.

In an effort to disentangle me more from Instagram, where the people are for this kind of content, I’ll try to keep posting here. Images, photos, are so numberless that it’s hard to care about a few, much less discuss them. When I write about ‘my photography’ it feels a bit like dancing acceptably at a wedding, and then returning to your table and striking up a serious conversation about my dancing to a stranger.