Yes, you have read the same story thousand of times, I agree. So let me tell you that this is not the typical story were they will tell how much they love film because of the resolution and aesthetics. I just want to take you on a ride from my childhood to now, share some details that will help you to know me better and see how I went from film photography to digital and back to film.
Please have me in mind that this story goes from my childhood to now, to my late-twenties, some parts will be true, some parts maybe not, probably there will be some confabulation, but just keep reading till the end. Enjoy and let’s have fun!
90′ boy, growing up with disposable cameras
As a 90’ boy, my first contact with photography was of course, with film photography, especially 35 mm, it was fun and quite easy to get and develop everywhere in less than 1 hour (remember those times, crazy!). My parents were not very much into photography, just something casual for moments like family meetings or special moments.
What I truly remember is how much I loved going on a day-trip with the school. For me that meant that my mum would prepare some nice snacks to have it during the day, probably a sandwich and some candy. Money, in case I wanted to buy some souvenir. Plus she would get a disposable camera for me to use during the day. I would shoot the whole roll on the day (it was so easy back then to shoot of e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g! These days I struggle to shoot a couple of frames in a day.) Unfortunately I don’t know where are any of those negatives, I guess my mum throw them away, probably for the best hahaha.
A few years later, I got a gift from my aunty, a Fujifilm film camera. I remember that it was grey, with flash and completely automatic. This camera last me quite a while, but unfortunately now is gone. Younger me used to like to disassemble electronics with the hope of creating new things out of it but always end up breaking apart everything.
and then I went digital
Technology step in everyone’s life and film disappeared for me. During those years I got some shitty point and shoot digital cameras. I mostly photographed every single thing that catched my attention (like now…duh) specially during family vacations. But to be honest it was a bit stressful because I was always worrying about not having enough space in the memory cards and battery left.
Later the first iPhone appeared and…I got one. Since that moment my main camera was my iPhone for quite few years. In the summer of 2013 I decided to get a proper camera. Don’t really know why but I guess that I just wanted a camera with some manual options to get a bit “creative”. After some research I got a mirrorless camera, a Sony NEX 5R (I still have it, use it, and love it) with a 18-55 mm 3,5/5,6f lens.
Life continues. I finished uni. I moved to Manchester from Spain (first time living in a foreign country), just graduated and recently fallen in love. Manchester was the city that inspired me to get into photography and also re-introduced me film photography.
While I was there I got really serious about photography, yes I did, that much that I worked on my first photography project “The Edge Collection: Manchester”. I will write more about this in another post, because I have a thorn on heart with this project and probably will be fun to go through it. To summary let’s say that this project help me to understand photography in many ways.
the Olympus Trip 35 appeared in my life…
I don’t remember how or why but one day, I woke and directly from bed, I grabbed my laptop and started to search about film photography (i love to work from bed, so this is 100% true). Probably I saw someone around Manchester with a film camera or just found some article about film photo on internet. My first thought was that I needed a film camera, and everyone was saying that the Olympus Trip 35 seemed to be the perfect beginner camera. The design was so minimalist and sleek that I went to straight to eBay and got one. Right after I got a roll of Ilford HP5 from Amazon so I could use the camera straight away after receiving it
For about 30£ (yes, I checked my email archive and I got it for 30 £) I got a mint-condition Olympus Trip 35 camera from a guy who told me that the camera belonged to his father. He was really happy to sell it to someone that was going to shot with it (probably this is some confabulation of my brain but actually I don’t mind because it sooo lovely, so I will keep it).
I received few days later, with the original manual instructions and also a leather bag. I was really amazed how this little camera will able to take pictures with the power of the light (doesn’t have a batteries, it uses a selenium panel power the camera)
Before I continue with the story…I would like to share just a little bit of how I felt about Film Photography right before of getting the Olympus Trip 35. To describe it in just a word, let me use MAGIC. Probably I was a bit hyped about all the things that I read over internet but in my mind Film Photography was like magic.
A magic that was going to transform the moment that I captured, into something beautiful with amazing colours and perfect composition. Yeah, so naive of me, but still sometimes I think film will do magic in my photos, then I see the results and obviously the magic didn’t happen.
enough magic, back to the story
While waiting for the camera, I researched about the labs that could develop the film around Manchester, and to be honest there were no many places to do it. Only Boots would do it, but had to be 35mm color film C-41, any other format they would need to send it away to develop it, so the process would take few weeks. (this was 5 years ago, probably they don’t have the service anymore…)
Few paragraphs above I was telling you that I just moved to Manchester and now I am telling that I it was time to leave Manchester for good, yeaap two years passed between these paragraphs.
After Manchester I was going to stay in Spain for a little while and then to Czech Republic so I needed to test and try the camera before leaving the UK just in case the camera had any kind of problem or light leak so I changed my plans a little bit.
Instead the Ilford HP5, I bought a Ilford XP2 (if you don’t know it, Ilford XP2 is a B&W film that you can develop with the same chemicals as for color film) so the Boots would do the job without the need to send the film away. Interesting that I chose B&W film instead of color, I don’t know why…the magic perhaps.
a bit of beginner’s drama
In a day I was done with the roll, I mostly shoot Manchester industrial architecture, in one photo-walk around the city. Obviously the first roll wouldn’t get developed without some beginner DRAMA.
Although I am not sure about how happened it seems that somehow I pressed the film rewind button, so the film wasn’t moving after winding the film. Right there the DRAMA started and I thought that the camera was indeed damaged and I would have to return it. I tried to fix it, so I wind some of the film back into the canister, and I opened the back of the camera, in the daylight, no protection at all, close it again and the camera was magically working again. I finished the roll and the magic happened, now was time to take the roll to the lab.
Feeling like a little weirdo for asking to develop film, I left the roll in Boots and a day or three days after (I don’t remember) I went back to pick it up. I pay between 5 to 7 pounds and got my film developed and prints of every single frame, no scan. I opened the envelope and I check all the prints, they were absolutely fine, I was feeling relieved because I wouldn’t have to return the camera. But I was really excited, my first roll of film developed in years, finally I would have real filtered Instagram photos, how exciting!
They looked really good, plus I got some interesting results, as I winded some exposed film into the canister, now I had some double-exposed frames, which I didn’t expect at all, nothing breathtaking but was indeed a surprise that a mistake would lead into something like that.
While my last days in Manchester were passing I continue using the Olympus Trip 35. This time I used the Ilford HP5 that I should have used to test the camera, although this roll of film didn’t get developed on UK but in Spain, but that’s another story… Since then I have been shooting film most of the time and the Sony NEX 5R has a part-time job with me. I use it very few times and those times that I have used it I feel overwhelmed about all the options and settings that you have, poor her…
Film or Digital?
I still cannot explain why I chose to shot film over digital. Could it be the aesthetic? That I am a bit of a hipster? Because is simpler and now digital cameras confuse me a lot? To all of that, I say yes. I don’t want to use this post to tell you why I shoot film or digital or whatever, I will write another post and will go deeper into this topic for sure. For now, let’s enjoy the story!
Share the post if you liked it and let me know in the comments how did you get into film photography, what was your journey…I would like to read it! Until next time, keep shooting, Fer.