27 Frames

Jason Baffa

We sent 27 single use cameras out to some of our favorite photographers, they shot stuff with it, then mailed it back to us. We developed the film and are sharing the results with you (and the photographers) now. In this instant, digital age, we want to pay homage to a snapshot photo process we grew up with ourselves — waiting for the film to develop and being surprised by the results. These 27 Frames belong to Jason Baffa.

Who are you? Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m Jason Baffa, filmmaker, father, husband, lover of good food, friends, family, film and travel. I guess in surfing I’m known for my work on Singlefin: Yellow, One California Day and most recently a project we shot in Italy called Bella Vita – please go buy it, shameless plug #1, but mostly because you guys at Indoek & ITAL/C crafted award-winning packaging. 

How did you first get into photography?

I got my first super 8mm film camera when I was 7 years old from my grandma and I started making little films thereafter. I liberated my dad’s Canon AE-1 35mm still camera when I was around 10 during a family vacation. I suppose that was my first attempt at shooting good still images. We were traveling through Italy and there was plenty to shoot. But most of my focus has been on motion picture work – so I haven’t often had the time during “shoots” to take stills. In the last 3-5 years, I’ve really tried to focus more on capturing stills. Part of that is probably being a new dad. But also, I just enjoy it. There is a real art to telling a story in one image, in one frame. I find I’m learning more every day.

Film or digital?

I started on film, but I also grew up making my home-movies through the home-video revolution. So I became, at an early age, very accustomed to the immediacy of VHS, HD and eventually digital. But it wasn’t until recently that I could say I trust or even like the look of digital imagery. To me it always felt like TV – not cinematic. This really drove the decision to shoot film on my three independent documentaries.

Today, I think technology has caught up and the images are amazing from all formats. Is it the Indian or the arrow? In the end, film will always be dear to my heart (and probably my preferred medium) but I embrace what the digital world now offers to both photographers and filmmakers. Let’s hope all formats stay around for a long time so we can creatively and fiscally decide from project to project what works best. 

When was the last time you used a single use (disposable) camera?

I took one to Italy while making my last film, Bella Vita. I like to have these around, ya sorta never know what you are going to get.  

What did you decide to shoot with your camera for this project?

This was the hardest part for me. 27 precious frames. Damn, I had so many different ideas and I really didn’t want to waste a shot. In the end, I knew I was going to be in Hawaii through the holidays so I thought there might be something fun to do there. When I heard that the Vans Triple Crown was going to run the Pipe contest I thought, huh, well there’s a really unique way to use this camera – basically, it is the last camera you would ever want (wide angle, manual advance, single shot film camera with no focus control or f-stop) at a modern surf contest. I think 95% of the photographers on the beach were shooting digital, long lens, rapid fire frames-per-second. Don’t miss a moment professor, Pipe is cracking and Lance Burkhart might win! But hey, why not flip the script and try something different – so that was my goal… Let’s see what we can get with the opposite format I’d normally choose for this particular event.  

Did you have any interesting experiences along the way?

I really enjoyed having to frame up, what I thought might be a great shot, and waiting, waiting, waiting for that little window of CLICK. Especially at Pipe. There were so many good waves that day, but I really tried to wait for what looked like a photographic moment. I also told myself, no multiples of the same setup. So I tried my best to change up every frame. I missed one epic shot. There was this young kid playing in the shore break with deep red trunks. He stopped right in front of me and watched a really good wave in the background. I shoulda pulled the trigger – moment missed. Bummer.

What was the biggest challenge (if any) you had with the project?

I found it funny how stressed I got about actually “covering” the story of the event – I kept thinking, oh, I got him going to his heat, now I need a wave. Oh dang, if he advances, I should stay and follow the story. I’m pathetic that way – let it go idiot – shoot some frames and have fun! I have issues. In the end, I’m happy with the framing, but had some technical issue with the camera – multiple frames came back blurry. Being that I was shooting static on a full sun day, I’m guessing this was some kind of registration issue on the low-fi, plastic camera. I’ve had so many rolls of super 16mm come back with heart-breaking flaws, it definitely makes you consider the benefits of digital and chimping your shots, making those in-the-moment adjustments, shooting more until you nail it, but where’s the magic in that? I’ll just call the blur artistic and make a day of it. 

What was your favorite image from the roll?

Look, Pipe is such a photographic spot, I hedged my bet pretty well. We could probably send a monkey drunk on absinthe to that event and they’d bag a banger image. But I will say, I thought this one was pretty cool: the one of an empty barrel and the bush in the foreground. I like that the foreground is dark and it’s a nice Pipe Moment. I’d probably crop it and re-frame a hair, but ya, that’s my favorite. Ironically, I’m more bummed on a few of the ones that came in blurry that might-have-been! Those what-if’s?! I was really hoping the one with the security guards was going to be epic. Those guys control that beach so well and I thought something over their shoulder with a banger surf moment would have been great – oh well! Maybe I need the absinthe.

Check out more of Jason’s work here:

JASON BAFFA

 

Special thanks to Dexter’s Camera in Ventura for developing all of the film for the 27 Frames project. If you are a photographer who loves film and have never visited their shop, go there now, they’re the best.

Matt Titone

A goofy-footed graphic designer who hails from the first state, Delaware. After attending Flagler College in St. Augustine, FL then graduating from SCAD in Savannah, GA with a BFA in Graphic Design and Illustration, Matt moved to NYC and found work as a freelance designer and art director. In 2006 he moved west to Venice, CA where he co-founded ITAL/C Studio, constantly seeks left hand point breaks, and tries very hard to avoid crowds & traffic.

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