I love film photography. Way back in my last years of high school, I took photography as one of my options and just fell in love. I went on to start A Levels, and really did not get on with them, so after that first year doing just the AS Levels, I started a Photography BTEC. This is honestly the best decision I ever made. Right from the beginning we got stuck in with SLR cameras – film – and learnt all the manual controls as well as how to expose and then develop a photo. I learnt so much in just that first year alone, and that’s were my love of film photography began.
#1 The Challenge: Getting it right.
Now digital photography is not easy, but it’s easier than film photography. You only get so many shots on a roll and you don’t want to be wasting them; there’s no delete button here. For that reason, you become more thoughtful about your shooting process. You learn all the manual controls, and you get a better idea of lighting and shadow. My college tutor once said to me ‘expose for the shadows, develop for the highlights’. A quote that has stuck with me ever since.
#2 Happy Accidents: You never know exactly what you’re gonna get.
There’s no digital screen to see if you ‘got the shot’, nope. It’s a case of point, shoot and hope you got what you wanted. I love that. Even better is when you forget about finished film rolls, and then develop them a couple of years later and see what surprises they hold. Maybe you accidentally created a double exposure? Your photos may get light leaks and lens flares affecting the roll, but this just makes for interesting results and gives film that ‘arty’ feel. Some photos will be absolute rubbish and some will be completely unexpected – that’s the magic of it.
#3 It feels raw: Film Grain > Digital Noise
There’s just something about the grainy look of film, and especially in black and white, that makes me adore it. I’ve always told myself that when I have kids (in the far future of course) I’ll take some film photos of them as they grow up. The thing about film photography for me is that it really doesn’t have to be special – even just regular life looks way more interesting in film. Some of the best street photography I can think of is on film: by photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and Diane Arbus – everyone has seen the ‘Child with a toy hand grenade in Central Park, N.Y.C.‘ right?!
#4 No Post-processing: No Pressure
I edit my photos. I do. Most people do. Film cameras have a better dynamic range and colour quality, so they don’t really need all that editing, and there’s just less pressure for it to be ‘perfect’. How much time do you spend poring over photoshop trying the get the colours or the levels right? Film gets rid of all that fuss. You can actually dodge and burn when developing in the dark room, but it isn’t easy!
#5 Memories: Developing and Creating Albums.
Now we’re all mostly digital, it’s all too easy to take 50 of the same photograph to get the right one, and then those images just get filed away in a random folder on your computer. Can you really remember what photos you took last year? I can’t, and I have so many. Maybe it’s just me, but I dream of having albums of photographs. Yep, you could just print digital ones and put them in a folder, but it’s not quite the same is it? I mean I do actually plan to do this as well because I just like being able to hold them, but you know, nothing beats a good old photo album. Some of my favourite film photos are ones I took on my Instax mini in France (you can see those above) and ones I took in Turkey. When I look at them I can picture the scene and feel it immediately.
And here are some of the first ever film photographs that I took with an SLR, developed the film and printed the photographs in a dark room. Oh college, I kind of miss it. Nothing better than being in a pitch black room doing the developing and hoping you’ve managed to get it all in the right order and then getting in the dark room with red lighting and seeing those photos coming to life.
I’m going to write a few different blog posts about my own photography journey because I recently discovered some of my college stuff and it wasn’t all amazing, but there are some great bits in there that I’m still proud of! Have you ever used film? Love it or loathe it?