KEEP IT ON THE BROWNLOWE: Mystery Roll of Film

Em Brownlowe

Digital media is replacing everything.

Subconsiously, this is probably why I have knowingly carried around a roll of film in my backpack for months. The thought of adding more waste to the world, another 1/8 lb of photographs to add to my suitcase of highschool memories, made me forget about the lonely roll of film.

There was a point when I was a pretty avid photographer. At first it was casual snap shots of friends and I….then it turned into band photography…..and then evolved into me taking 4 years of photography classes creating some pretty stellar images. This has all sadly ended…a waste of natural talent.

Sometimes I wish I would at least get back into the casual candid moment style of photography… If only to document what my friends and I looked like and what we were doing so I can be sentimental in old age.

This is what inspired me to develop the mystery roll of film. I had no idea what time period it was from, couldn’t remember the last time I took a picture using actual film. All I knew was the canaster was a random time capsule ready to be opened and transformed into a tangible version of experiences and memories I had buried into my subconscious.

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AH HA! Here is all comes rushing back to be now! Isn’t it funny how a photograph can channel an exact moment in your subconscious memory? These are photos from when I went back down to San Diego to visit friends during Thanksgiving…based on my red shaggy haircut I’m guessing these photos are probably from 2006

Em + Charlotte

Here is a photograph of my friend, Frances Charlotte and her beautiful half-Jap baby! Charlotte and I used to play the open mic circuit of San Diego but then she settled down, and transformed her passion for music into a passion for family. This photograph was taken after being apart for years! Even though time, husbands, babies and removed moody girlfriends have changed our lives, Charlotte and I didn’t skip a page in our relationship. She is still the quirky, dirty minded halarious woman I used to romp around with. Later on her husband came over and cooked a delicious Japanese beef curry dish yum yum!


During this trip I made a short 30 minute trip to visit my friend Mel, whom I also hadn’t seen in years. Mel and I used to play in a band called Carrie Incognita. She played drums and is an incredible visual artist/print maker, a drag king superstar, and while I was 16 Mel inspired me to wear men’s underwear exclusively.

Em + Jen

Later that evening I went out with Jen + Simon of The Displaced. They took me to this great Thai restaurant and afterwards as we were walking to our cars snapped a few quickies. Jen is a brilliant photographer and has a great set of vocal pipes that have inspired me greatly. This was also the evening I bought that blue jacket!

Em + Simon

When I lived in San Diego, Simon was kind of like my music mentor. I enjoyed our talks and his support for me to follow my dreams. Earlier the same year this photograph was taken Swallows (Jon / I) and The Displaced (Simon / Jen + Carl the Weiner Dog) went on our first west coast tour together. It was a blast!


Every time I go to San Diego I end up staying with my best friends there, Heather and Johnny Janiga. No matter what day it is, I am always shown warm hospitality and an awesome time. These two are known for having fun. They also have a music project called Podunk Nowhere. This picture was taken at a post-Thanksgiving party hosted by Heather’s boss. Everyone at the party was so nice and easy to talk to. I remember talking Portland up a little much (guilty Californian, here!), eating great food and drinking too much wine. After the meal I played a few songs solo and Podunk Nowhere did a quick set! After the party I drove Heather home and we listened to the Podunk Nowhere debut CD (which at the time wasn’t released) as we drove through the dark Ocean Beach cliffs.


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