On the 5th of May, I will be celebrating my very first, real, film camera’s first birthday. It was such a whirlwind romance between us and now, I can’t imagine my life without it. I never felt so in love with film as much as I am now.
To date, I added 2 more analogue cameras to my collection, maintained a film blog, traveled with the analogue babies and followed and got to know local and foreign film photographers.
Throughout the year that has passed, I’ve learned to love the bittersweet feeling one gets when shooting film. Some photos turn out nah, others look really good while some, you realize, don’t get developed/exposed at all. You’ll also start to see that you’ve learned a lot, but still have a long way to go. You learn everyday, every time you use a new film or a different camera or simply when you teach others how to do it.
You also begin to understand that it doesn’t always have to be about being hi-tech or expensive for one to see and appreciate beauty in photography. It’s not about taking hundreds of photos and hoping you get a good shot and maybe just delete the rest. It takes great patience, understanding and a whole lot of effort and figuring out your own approach in getting a photo to turn out the way you want it to. But when it doesn’t, it can be something way, way better than you have imagined. It’s very unpredictable, film. It can surprise you in a reeeeaaaally good way!
So how and why did I get into FILM PHOTOGRAPHY?
I bought my very first film camera from a college friend. Unfortunately, I couldn’t seem to make it work. After getting 2 empty film rolls developed, I got very frustrated and I decided I just put it to rest.
Fast forward to a few years after graduation, a former colleague thought I would love his lomography cameras. He sold me his FISHEYE 2 and HOLGA CFN with a free 120mm film. I knew how to use a film camera. I know we used an “instamatic” film camera until I was in high school, but never have I seen a 120 film! I had to research how to load one into the Holga and to tell you honestly, it was pure joy what I felt when I did it. I was like “this is definitely not a thing of the past!”.
I couldn’t really remember why that colleague thought I would enjoy using his cameras, but now that I think about it, I think I may have poured my heart out once about being a photographer. Also, I think assembling my own plastic toy TLR camera gave me away.
As much as I had the time of my life using these toy cameras, there came a point in my life that I wanted to take the hobby up a notch higher. So, I decided to get myself a real film camera. That’s when I joined the group, Film Photography Swap, where I got my very first real camera, a Canon Ftb QL. It is a heavy, all metal and a very good looking vintage camera. It is fully mechanical and I loved it the moment I laid my eyes on it. That was indeed, the start of my epic film adventure!
Why I got into film is a different story. At first, I just wanted my own camera. I knew I could not afford getting a DSLR as soon as I can get a film SLR so that’s what I invested on first.
I also realized early on that I never learned a thing about photography (except for taking photos with DOF) playing around with my father’s DSLR, so I thought, why not start where almost all great photographers started, with film photography? True enough, most film photographers and enthusiasts alike would say that if you want to learn the craft, you’d have to learn it the hard way. 😛
Kidding aside, I understood all the technical stuff playing around with my camera. I appreciated everything the manual had to say and also what the online photography teachers expounded on. As time went on, I appreciated the unpredictability of the end results, the great effort you put into getting a single photo, the grain, the delayed gratification and not to mention the excitement and the magical feeling you get from beginning to the end.
I often think about the fact that this camera was built in the 70’s when my parents haven’t even met each other yet. It must have been passed on to generations and must have been used to take hundreds of photos, yet it survived long enough to take photos of the modern day world. Doesn’t that sound magical?
Do I see myself going back to digital?
Digital photography will always be the go-to and less risky way to document the most special moments of our lives. That’s why it’s comfortable to use! I still take photos using my phones, and digital may never be completely shut out of my life, but for 90% of the time, I would always prefer to shoot film and rather than megapixels.
What are the two other cameras I recently bought?
This one’s my first rangefinder. It’s a Yashica Electro 35 G. It’s an aperture-priority camera which means, once you’ve set an aperture on it, it automatically sets the shutter speed. It was customized by the previous owner, rangefinder lover and also a member of the FPS group I mentioned earlier, which explains the red leather cover of the camera body. It came with the complete and original leather case and strap, a rubber lens hood and a lens cap! Definitely a good catch! Plus, I got it in pretty mint condition!
This one I took using the said rangefinder. Not bad, right? In the photo is the latest analogue camera I got. It’s a Polaroid Automatic 230 Land Camera. It’s very odd-looking, uses peel-apart instant film and looks very intimidating to use, but once you get the hang of it, it seems pretty less complicated than it looks.
So far though, I’ve wasted 2 film sheets because it’s mostly for bright and sunny, outdoor photography. Sometimes, the peeling of the photo causes small parts of the photos to come off as well, especially when the photos have not yet been fully developed (I think). That’s why some of my photos were damaged mildly. Other than that, everything worked smoothly, even the loading of the film which I totally forgot to review before we went on our trip.
Any favorite photos to date?
I have a few more, but these are definitely climbing up the charts!