As if I didn’t already have enough (unfinished) projects going on at the moment, I decided to start the year with a fresh theme (see what I did there?). I’ve been shooting Digital for almost over a year now, I’m still getting to grips with all the buttons and settings, the endless possibilities of fucking up a picture. I’m still far off from where I want to be in terms of technical skill and composition, but I enjoy what I do. But it’s not Film.
I grew up using film. I actually studied it at university (believe it or not), I spent hours in the dark room (not that kind you dirty fool) letting the chemicals eat away my hands, developing film and printing pictures. I even had full on lab set up at one point. I had phases where I just shot slide film, then switching to 35mm Ilford Hp5 – my absolute favorite B/W Film. After acquiring a Mamiya RB67 and a Kiev 88, I spent a good 2 years just shooting medium format. I loved it, and to this day I regret selling the Mamiya.
Being cash strapped I had always debated about switching to Digital Photography – for the sole reason that it was cheaper than buying/developing Film. But I never caved. After moving across the Atlantic, I no longer had the possibility to set up my darkroom, and getting medium format film developed became increasingly difficult and expensive – so I switched back to shooting 35mm film. The allure of switching to Digital became larger over time, but again the lack of adequate funds and other priorities prevented me from converting.
*I need to add at this point, I never scanned any of my negatives, nor published any Photos (aside from 2 rolls of film) on any of my past and current Blogs. I did however have several exhibitions over the years. My Photography existed in the physical world, not the digital.
After moving to Berlin my priorities somewhat changed. I wanted to document my surroundings, to share it with others – online, and I felt this was something that I could only realistically achieve with the help of a Digital Camera.
So fast forward a bit. I had been eying up a nice Nikon D5000 for a while (again an economical choice), so my partner – being the wonderful person that she is – ended up buying it for me as a Christmas present. And this is where the descent into the hell of “digital waste” begins.
After a normal tour, I ended up coming back home with +400 photos. After uploading them to Flickr and sorting through them, I was left with around 100 Photos. When shooting film, I would probably use a maximum of 2 rolls of film (that’s approx. 54 photos)
Do you begin to see the problem here?
It took me a year to realize that Digital Photography was making me lazy. I was taking pictures just because I could take them. It didn’t mater how many pictures I took, and of what – the sheer quantity of pictures would mean that one of them would end up looking good. Or not.
Here lies my second problem with Digital Photography. Too Many Settings. For some people this is a gift from god. Theres a setting for every little thing. Now, while I do hold some sort of technical grasp with film photography – the technical issues with digital are on a whole different level. Of course you could just take that Nikon D5000 straight out of the box and go take some pictures, but in reality, they will look like shit. The chance of your photos still looking like shit after you’ve fiddled around with the settings is still extremely high. It’s a process which takes patience – and you will be endlessly frustrated at the photos you’ve botched because of the wrong settings. I accept that. But it still frustrates me.
Yes, you can equally screw things up with a Film Camera – there is hardly anything more frustrating than getting a roll of film back only to see the negatives are over exposed, blurry or just plain crap. But im not forced to figure out how to turn off that annoying beeping sound, or how long the display light stays on.
I love shooting with my Nikon. Its made my life easier, and made me look at things differently. Because of it I can post things on my blog the way I do.
But I don’t love it the same way I love Film. Film made me embrace “slow”. It forced me to select my shots, to think about them. For some this might sound like bullshit, but if you shoot with film you know what im talking about.
Film runs in my family. It’s a tradition. A Heritage. The photo on top of this article is actually the Photography Store my Great Grandfather used to own. His son (my grandfather) was a very keen photographer as well, amassing an impressive and valuable archive of photographs of Europe from the late 1930s and 40s. The same goes for my father, who is a passionate photographer with an enviable collection of Cameras and Lenses. And then there’s me. I’m nowhere near their level, nor skill, but I have a enough time and passion to get there someday.
I’m not going to stop shooting with my Nikon. It is the future. But I would like to share that future with my film photography as well. So this is where we get to my next project – Year of Film.
As the name implies, im going to be shooting film for a year, more specifically 1 roll of film every month. That might not sound like a lot to you, but it’s not about quantity. Thats exactly the kind of thing im trying to avoid. Its about regaining the sense of purpose behind the photo. Another reason for the 1 roll of film limit is because im also being realistic. I have a desk job, I sit in front of a computer +8 hours a day. I only have 2 days a week (well actually 1) where I can go out and do some photography. The reasons most projects fail is because they are too ambitious and set unrealistic goals. I think ive found the right balance here.
I was gifted one of the new Ilford XP2 Disposable Cameras over Christmas (currently only available in England) and I decided to use this as the starting point for my new project.
Im normally not that big of a fan of Disposable Cameras, but I was keen to try out this exclusive gem. To bad I forgot to use flash for most of the Photos. 90% of the images came out underexposed. Beginners Mistake – Lesson Learned. Why the camera even gives you the option to take pictures without flash is beyond me. The Black and White Photos you see spread out in this post are a selection from the roll of film.
Im going to be uploading a selection of shots onto my Flickr account every month – so feel free to Check them out as time progresses – Flickr: Year Of Film – January
It can only get better from here on. The journey continues.