This is a bit rambling, but I'm trying to distill my thoughts over 4 shots of espresso... ...is still a rose, no? Well, if Shakespeare can immortalize the single most beautiful and dangerous plant (to my younger second cousin anyway), then why can't I? The background: I got really bored in the darkroom the other day, so I decided to start printing a few of my first "real negatives" (as in, I finally bought negative sheets so that I could keep them in some sane order). One of them I picked was from every photographer's first "Real" shoot: the flower study. A Rose. Simply, a rose. It's a nice image, and I still like it- and it's interesting to see how a picture can change when you don't look at the negative for... several months. Well, almost a year or so (I just started processing myself not too long ago, so hey). I had a flurry of emotions while printing that ranged from psychotic to euphoric to angry, and so I just let it fly. The final result? Everything from enlarging onto 4x5 film to print a positive to contacting the 35mm, to contacting the positive to 4x5 film and all variations of solarizing and double exposing among them... But still I just didn't feel it. Why? What is it that gets you going in the darkroom? Lately I seem to just get bored, and with my commitment to wet photography, it makes my heart ache to look at my dear photographer friend's Flickr and realize that my style isn't refined or changed at all. Albeit I'm 17 (and so is she!), it seems with her digital camera, she's getting ahead where I'm staying behind (I used to be the one teaching her technique and pushing her to develop her own style!). In times like these, how is film going to really push ahead to stay relevant? Moreover, how am I to develop my style and truly learn where I'm going if I can't shoot much because of prohibitive costs? I really don't want to stop doing this, but even though people tell me my work is awesome and "oh boy it's refreshing to see someone as young as you doing traditional methods!", I'm not feeling it. It makes me think that maybe all the technical information that's been crammed into my head (I'm a very technical guy, I skim it once and have it memorized) has overpowered my artist's instinct. I recall my early work when I didn't know about how and why it worked- I just knew it worked. The prints from Walgreens showed me that (on BW400CN and an SRT-201)- and I fell in love with BW! But has technical data hindered my art? I made it this summer to a very selective art program in my state, but am I an artist? Do I make art or just technical statements? How are young analog photographers like me going to stay afloat in an all-digital world that I'll be living in when I'm 40, 50 or even 80 years old? I love the magic of the darkroom, but for growing purposes, would it be a crime for me to buy a digital camera to learn style?