February 04 – The Rialto Theater

02-04 Rialto post

The Rialto Theater is one of the most recognizable buildings on Tucson’s most recognizable street. Situated on Congress Street across from the famous Hotel Congress, The Rialto opened its doors in 1922 with silent films and vaudeville performances.

I moved to Tucson in 2001. At the time, the University of Arizona was a construction zone, as was a great deal of University Boulevard. Congress Street felt like a ghost town during the daytime, but a handful of businesses kept the heart of downtown pumping – especially The Grill, which only recently closed its doors.

Paying the university a premium for the privilege to listen to jackhammers and to perpetually circumnavigate rent-a-fenced holes in the ground are but two of many disappointing experiences. The 24 hour availability of tater tots at The Grill and the wonderful performers that The Rialto attracted would be the other side of the coin; the downtown scene was among the greatest things I remember from those early college days.

Today’s ‘photograph of the day’ wasn’t made with a vintage camera like the others. It was made with what we’d consider a toy camera. Weighing in at only twelve ounces – the most forgiving weight of any camera – my first plastic “Holga” model camera cost about twenty bucks brand new. The unpredictable exposures, light leaks, and low-tech aesthetic these cameras produce have seen them grow in popularity over the past twenty years. When I last checked, the same model camera I’ve been shooting with costs somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty dollars.

Film isn’t dead. Neither are Daguerreotypes, for that matter. Historians, enthusiasts, and hobbyists will always keep these old methods alive. Thanks to Hollywood directors who prefer to shoot on film, popular low-tech products like the Holga (which attracts photo nerds like myself), and the infinite resource that is the internet, film will always be out there – even if it’s lost its relevance.

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