The Results

The hor­ror of unex­posed film.

There are two words a Lebanese pho­tog­ra­ph­er dreads more than any else. I can only imag­ine the hor­rors war pho­to­jour­nal­ists faced dur­ing the height of the Lebanese con­flict, when they risked life and limb to do their jobs. But these two words, I believe, sig­ni­fy even worse fears. Worst of all, every one of us has heard them before.

The first word is “mahrouq.” Literally mean­ing “burned,” this is what your devel­op­er says to you when your film has been over­ex­posed due to light leak­ing into the cam­era, improp­er load­ing, or human error. It is rare but it does hap­pen.

The sec­ond, and even rar­er, ter­ri­fy­ing word is “fadé,” which lit­er­al­ly means emp­ty. Today I had the mis­for­tune of hear­ing this word (accom­pa­nied with a sud­den wave of nos­tal­gia) when, for the first time in two years, I paid a vis­it to my neigh­bor­hood film lab. Yesterday I had shot a roll of 27 frames on a dis­pos­able cam­era, and was eager­ly look­ing for­ward to the results. Apparently, how­ev­er, the film roll had jammed in the cam­era from the very start, which meant that I was lit­er­al­ly shoot­ing blanks the whole time, with­out even know­ing it.

Now all I have to show for last night is a strip of unex­posed film. Time for Take Two.

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