photo by Paige Walter for WXPN
XPoNential Analog: Revisiting our weekend of music and community on film
A month ago today, the XPN staff and community was collectively in the afterglow of a glorious weekend on the Camden Waterfront: the 2021 XPoNential Music Festival, our return to in-person live music with stellar performances by Cimafunk, The Record Company, Ani Di Franco, Shovels & Rope and more.
This afternoon we get another wave of warm musical memories as several batches of scanned analog film make their way off Dropbox and into our lives. In addition to cranking out digital content covering the weekend’s performances in reviews and videos, several members of our team documented XPNFest analog-style: photographer Megan Matuzak with on-the-fly instant-film snaps, writer / photographer Paige Walter in black-and-white 35 mm and color 120 mm film, and editor John Vettese in color 35 mm film.
Compared to our fast-paced, 3-fps DSLR world, film photography is a slower process in the best way. You don’t get the instant gratification of seeing a picture immediately on your LED display, finding out what you have, and hustling to get many more just like it. You take your shot, cross your fingers, and are often surprised down the line after the photo develops — whether its the five minutes it takes for a Polaroid to pop or the week or two it takes to get scans back from the lab. The shots you were most excited for often didn’t come out; the shots that you thought were toss-offs are often the best.
It’s also an ephemeral process: shooting digital, it’s much easier to snap and snap and fill your memory card until you’ve achieved something like perfection. On film, you truly are capturing fleeting instants in time, and here’s how each of us stepped back during our frenzied weekend of music and community and found small yet profound moments to cherish.
As one of XPoNential’s lead photographers this year, Megan Matuzak hustled from set to set, stopping at XPN central to edit and upload photos, and occasionally catch her breath. In the midst of it all, Matuzak carried her Fujifilm Instax 210 with her, catching up with artists like Devon Gilfillian and Jade Bird as they walked offstage and asking them to pose for snappy portraits. Matuzak also got a few behind-the-scenes moments in the mix, such as XPN Digital Content Manager Rich McKie pulling double-duty in the video truck, overseeing the live video webcast while keeping up on the Eagles game in the background.
Key contributor Paige Walter did a little bit of everything at XPoNential this year: written set recaps, live photography, and social media updates on Instagram. Paige also carried two Pentax cameras with her: a K1000 35 mm camera and a 645 medium format camera shooting 120 mm film. Her cameras were conversation-starters and her images brought a candid, street photography-inspired look to the festival setting, capturing scenes of the crowd enjoying The Record Company, fans setting up picnic-style on the lawn, and hammocks hung from the Wiggins Park trees.
Key editor John Vettese has done the XPNFest analog thing in the past, and brought back his Ricoh XR 35 mm to shoot a roll of color film throughout the weekend. His focus was largely the folks onstage or about to get onstage — including a sunset-dappled Nicole Atkins and her band prior to their Marina Stage set, or an equally golden-hour-soaked Ani Di Franco playing her Saturday headlining set on the marina stage. But candid moments made their way in as well, like XPN’s Mike Vasilikos reviewing a setlist with Jade Bird, or his fellow host Rahman Wortman hanging riverside with Arthur Thomas of The Funkitorium.
For more on XPoNential Music Festival, visit our 2021 archives here — and save the date! XPNFest returns to the Camden Waterfront on September 16th through the 18th of 2022.