Maybe you can cast your mind back to a time when the year started with a ‘1’…: you returned from a holiday, a birthday party, a sports day or whatever and raced to the local chemist with your precious rolls of camera film in hand. You spent an impatient 48 hours waiting for the photos to be developed and returned to you in that little paper envelope, you flicked through excitedly – how did that great landscape/building/character turn out in the picture? – and immediately threw half of them in the bin because they were blurred, people were missing their heads and Aunty Phyllis was staring out at you with glowing red Satan eyes.
Ah yes – the halcyon days of analogue photography, where we had to start by loading the film into the back of the camera and winding on (a concept so archaic it surprised me to even think the word).
I have a bit of a thing for vintage cameras and the days of film. Don’t get me wrong, I love the ease of use that my digital camera gives me and I also love the “delete” button, but in these user-friendly days of camera phones, Photoshop and (shudder) the selfie stick, the whole analogue thing and having to set everything up manually without the luxury of an “auto” option seems more of a labour of love, more artistic somehow. There was a certain skill in trying to make every single one of those 24 exposures count, knowing that you couldn’t delete it or sort it out later on the laptop. And the finished article felt valuable, something solid into which to pour your memories.
I recently came across this article about why some photographers prefer film. I’m not going to re-hash it because it already lists all the reasons to love film, but it started me thinking about my very first “proper” camera, a second-hand Pentax, and my very first solo travel experience at the age of 17 when I learnt to use it. I remember sitting in the bathroom of Debenhams when I collected them, agonising over the ones that hadn’t come out and feeling a sense of triumph when I found one I was pleased with. I’d kept them preserved in a photo album (we did that in those days) then later scanned them into my computer. Apart from a certain amount of work in post-processing to remove scratches and clean up the image the pictures are exactly the same as the day when the chemist handed them back to me.
*I’d be doing Kodak a disservice if I didn’t mention that it was their ISO 200 colour film I used (and no, contrary to popular belief, it didn’t get damaged by the x-ray machine at the airport). 😉
Read more about film and vintage cameras here: Comprehensive Guide to Vintage Film and Cameras
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