April 8, 2021 was the first time I hung out with my family (or anyone else, for that matter), in person, indoors, and without masks in over a year of living in the pandemic. For me it seemed like an occasion of historical significance that I wanted to capture in the form of a family portrait.
Due to their age, my parents were able to get vaccinated some time ago. I was able to receive my single dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine four weeks prior to this meeting through a deal with my wife’s labor union. My sister who lives with my parents received her second shot two weeks prior to this. So both of our households were fully vaccinated and so we were ready.
For the last few months I’ve been bringing my daughter over to my parents house every week, always with our masks on, even after my parents got vaccinated. To finally all be together without masks felt so free. Even my four-year-old daughter (who is quite good about mask-wearing) remarked how great it felt to be together without our masks on.
This image was shot with my Canon EOS A2 on Arista.EDU Ultra 400 black and white film which I rated at ISO 250. To light the shot I used an old Vivitar manual flash (which I have owned since mid 2000’s) bounced into the ceiling.
To meter the shot I used my ~15 year old Sekonic L-558 Cine which I’ve had since my film school days. Using the spot meter I set the shutter speed to a level that would let us see a little bit of the glow from outside through the blinds and balanced the output of the flash to match the desired aperture using the incident meter. The shot was taken using the old school self-timer which I triggered and then ran into the shot, just like in the old days.
I developed the film at home using a Paterson tank and Cinestill Df96 Monobath and digitized it using my Canon G7X Mk II and a home-made rig. All in all, a very hands on, manual experience. And after all that, it was very satisfying to get the result I was was looking for.
But most of all, I was glad to be able to make a physical documentation of this particular moment in our lives by capturing it on a film negative that may very well outlive us all.