Devin’s letter and other family portraits

My friend Devin introduced me to film photography.

I’ve never been a patient person, generally, I don’t like to wait for results: learning how to use a film camera made me appreciate slow processes. I have been using my reflex as a barbarian, aiming the lens on every random subject, taking thousands of photos that I would rarely edit.

Devin gave me his old point and shot changing my approach to photography: I create a sort of deep connection with every single frame of the 36 in a film.

Using films has not only taught me a new approach to photography but a new way of living too. With an analogue camera, as in life, you pay for every single mistake: I learned to take pictures focusing on every detail, analysing the light without rush. Living deeply every moment is like taking a photograph without neglecting details.

A mid-December morning I woke up before sunrise and went with my friend Megan to a bamboo forest 20 minutes away from our dormitory. In those days I was very nervous because of my thesis proposal. Dedicating a morning to myself was ideal for getting rid of some worries. That day Megan lent me her Canon film camera while teaching me how to use it, “Taking pictures this way takes longer, but you really appreciate every detail that surrounds you.”

I remember perfectly the colours of the leaves and the morning light filtering gently to the ground, the rustle of the small stream and the nuances of nature around expanding inside the water. I savoured every moment of that morning and realized how much my rush in life blinded me.

This quarantine feels like one of those chemical used in the darkroom, gradually bringing images out of a white photographic paper, more and more clear; we are all focusing on our life, stopping to observe the world.

In his letter, Devin talks about his family life making me think of my own family too. Meditating on all the moments I let slip out through my hands, without appreciating and holding them close to me as I should have.

I also recall all the photos I left hanging on the wall of my room in China, there are the crystallized memories of my friends and, smiling faces that will continue to be such, even under the dust of a room now abandoned for months. As Devin writes to me “this too will pass”, I know I will return to remove the dust from those smiles.

Photography manages to freeze time within an image, but it also teaches the value and beauty of every moment we live, even in the most difficult ones.

Dear Camilla, Dear Everyone,

Hey how are you, people? I hope you’re doing well.

 I am currently at my house in Bandung, writing this using my brother’s laptop because I didn’t bring my laptop and my camera when I got back to Indonesia from China. My plan last year was to go back to Indonesia just for Chinese New Year with my family and then go back to China, nevertheless it’s disheartening to now discover that we all won’t see each other until September.

 My parents and young brother had decided to move in with me, usually I discourage them from doing this because I like the freedom and independence I have, but now I welcome them.  It’s currently day 13 of quarantine for me and me and my family are doing great. So far the our government have been doing well in handling the virus, they’re currently doing massive tests on people who lived in a prone area, have a person whom tested positive living with them or just came back from another country and that’s why we receive a spike in the numbers of positive cases here.

 To be honest, quarantine can feel a little bit lonely. I feel that’s a little bit selfish to say. I have my family in one home, some other people don’t have that luxury. But sometimes I do need my friends…

 On the good side though, I haven’t touched any single cigarette this year, and probably will not till September. I got time to read more, to start playing games again, to enjoy the things that I’ve pushed away for so long (like writing) again and REST. I started to notice, cause this the longest time in so long that I’ve stayed this long with my family that each of them has some weird quirks. My mom, as busy as she always does, never allowed me to help her clean. My dad now that he got to stay at home more actually love doing architecture sketches and my teenager younger brother is currently on that period of locking himself in his room and having his “me time”. I got to see my older sister and my twin brother last month (they’re currently working in Singapore) and they are also doing fine there… I got jealous of them sometimes, they see to have life figured out whilst I’m always so clueless about stuff.

 When we got back in China, honestly just like what Leandre has said we’ll have a good party together. I miss you guys so much. It’s been hard for everyone at these times. There’s this philosophy about life I discover the other day it said, “ Life is like a rotating wheel, sometimes you’re on the top, sometimes you’re at the bottom. But no matter what you go through, this too shall pass.”

This too shall pass.

This too shall pass.

This too shall pass.


Devin Junior

「3.4.2020」// “There is nothing to small to photograph”
Instagram: @devin_tjandra

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