The problem with starting a roll of film at the end of summer and having to finish it during the winter is that you end up in situations like this, where your ISO 400 film can barely capture a thing. Kodak Portra 400 is a forgiving film, but even that first shot barely made it - I had to ramp up the exposure in the scan. Either way, I’ve learned to love grain. And my flawed negatives.
The first time I’ve ever volunteered was in 2010, at Emmaüs, in a town called La Ville dieu du Temple, somewhere in France. From that moment, I was hooked. Summer volunteer camps were like crack to me, they gave me a high I couldn’t find in my day-to-day life. This one didn’t.
In 2011, I traveled to another Emmaüs location — Bourgoin-Jailleu — looking for a new high to replace the old one that I was hung up on. Instead I found something else.
Unlike my previous experience, where the volunteer count was above twenty, in Bourgoin-Jailleu, there were only two volunteers. Unlike my previous experience, where the volunteers stuck out like sore thumbs, in Bourgoin-Jailleu, we blended in with the compagnons. The compagnons are the ones who live in these Emmaüs communities, the socially excluded who have come to be denied their rights somehow — the people for which Emmaüs existed.
Unlike my previous experience, where volunteers coexisted with the compagnons yet were distinguishable from them, in Bourgoin-Jailleu, I was a compagnon. And the world as a compagnon looked different.
19 years old. Summer of 2011. On the ferry from Denmark to Germany, going from Copenhagen to Berlin.
The beginning of the 2-week Interrailing trip that kickstarted a whirlwind of a year. Post-Belgium, pre-Paris and a world of possibilities.
December has funny way of sneaking in a few surprises before year’s end. Mine did. Unexpected news and a dose of reality, new connections that ended as soon as they’ve reached their peak, old friendships rekindled, babies, birthdays, Christmas and — the beginning of the end.
What it lacked in daylight, it made up for in thrill — sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Man. It was good while it lasted. I wish I could relive it.
Here are some snippets of the beginning of that charmed month, immortalized in a roll of Kodak Tmax P3200, shot with a Canon AE-1.
Birthday shenanigans, julefrokost and all sorts of jul- gatherings
A hyggeligt reunion
I secretly like birthdays. I greet the day come midnight and bid farewell to it twenty-four hours later, almost afraid that I might miss a beat.
Most of my birthdays I spend deep in thought and filled with expectations — as if anticipating a reaction from the day itself, requiring from it some sort revelation of what it means to be a year older.
It means nothing to be a year older. But I do it anyway.
Turning twenty-seven was no different, save for the diarrhea. Instead of staying up until midnight, my stomach kept me up until three in the morning. I missed three meetings and an entire work day — feeding on bland food and gulping gallons of water. But I did make this video, when words failed to describe what turning twenty-seven felt like. It felt like this.
Postcards from France
Summer of 2018
Somehow I’ve always found my way to France at summer’s end with some form of a summer fling, enjoying the last sweet moments before the impending post-summer heartache. When I found my way to France this time around, it was with family — to finally join the annual vacation after years of absence. We stayed in south-central France, in the region of Aude, in a tiny village called Cuxac-d’Aude. Heartache wasn’t impending this time, but the exciting promise of a new job.
Man, I love summer.
Everything was shot with a roll of Kodak Portra 400 — a love-hate.
I spent my twenty-fifth in a small cabin in Røsnæs, west of Sjælland, armed with nothing but books and two rolls of film that I was desperate to shoot.
It was the day after the annual office julefrokost — another uncanny Danish tradition that I have yet to get accustomed to — and I was feeling the beginning of a cold.To nurse a cold in a freezing cabin was not ideal. After all, these houses were made for the summer.
But on the day of my birthday, I got my Filipino breakfast and four hours of sunshine, which was more than enough to shoot a roll of ISO 400 film and to tell myself that I’ve been good in the past year (read: another Danish tradition).
These are snippets from the first rolls of Fuji 400H Pro and Kodak Tri-X that I have ever shot, featuring a few all-time-favorites.