Carl Quiz: Davey Bendiksen ’10

Davey Bendiksen ’10When it comes to photography, Davey Bendiksen ’10 (College Station, Texas) is an anachronism. Others may be converting to digital, but he’s sticking with film. Bendiksen, a self-taught photo enthusiast, has scooped up old film cameras and equipment for a song on eBay and stockpiled a freezer full of 35mm film—including soon-to-be-discontinued Kodachrome.

As this year’s director of the Student Photo Co-op, he saw student interest explode after he put up posters that publicized the co-op’s darkroom in the basement of Sayles. More than 40 students joined the co-op this year, and 24 attended Bendiksen’s free winter term workshop on film development and printing. “Film is nowhere near dead on this campus,” he says.

Although he loves film, Bendiksen sold much of his stock recently to buy an engagement ring for fiancée Megan McMahon ’10 (Durham, N.H.). “It was worth it,” he says. Bendiksen, a double major in English and Romance languages and literature, has applied to graduate schools and plans eventually to teach English or comparative literature. We pulled him out of the darkroom long enough to give him the Carl Quiz and see what developed.

Photo by Davey Bendiksen '10Inspiration: My twin brother, Kenny [also a Carl], got me started. He shot more than 80 rolls of black and white film when we went on the Paris off-campus study program in 2008, and I admired his work. I’d used a crappy digital camera.

Why film? There’s something innately human about the imperfections of film photography. Digital images have no depth, the gray tones are puke, and they lack texture.

Favorite photographers:  

  • Walker Evans—he respected his subjects; he didn’t take candid shots
  • Henri Cartier-Bresson—best street photographer ever
  • Ansel Adams—master of the obsessively perfect black and white print

Dream camera: My Minolta SRT102 does everything I want it to. It’s really about how you use the equipment you have.

Photo by Davey Bendiksen '10Best time to shoot on campus: Dawn. The purple of dawn, the electric orange of tungsten streetlights, and the muted night colors all combine—and then the moment’s gone. Light waits for no one.

Favorite subject: Whatever’s in front of me. Things and people just fill up the lens and suddenly you’re out of time and film.

Wide angle or zoom: Wide. You get more in the picture and you have to get up close to people. If you can’t get in people’s faces, you need more resolve.

Film choices: Black and white—Ilford HP5 is my all-time favorite, especially pushed to 800 in the right developer for that characteristic grain boost. Color—Kodachrome 64 for anything with people; you just can’t beat those nice bright colors. Fuji Velvia 50 for nature; it’s insanely vibrant. Color is boring unless you go all out.

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