I self-taught using digital cameras, and until last month hadn’t held a film camera in my hand since high school. And I don’t count those pictures as a true film experience because I would buy them at Walmart, point in the general direction of something, click, and get them developed. I didn’t have any control over the image except what I placed in the frame. I’ve been thinking about learning to shoot film for a long time, but felt a bit overwhelmed by the process. I’ve been taking notes as I learn so I can later write up a tutorial post to help anyone else who might like to make the jump from digital to analog but doesn’t know where to begin.
I bought a Canon Ae-1 and a 50mm lens, and one roll each of color and b&w film. Each time I heard the click of the camera and advanced the film my heart would pound and a rush of excitement would come over me. It’s a strangely euphoric experience and has reinvigorated my love of photography. The film camera is like a magical box, full of secrets and hope. I attended a party on Saturday evening and met another photographer who pointed out that shooting film allows the creator to be more present in each moment, and that has held true for me. The cost of each image means that I’m not clicking the shutter 15 times for each moment. I’m forced to slow down and think about what I want to capture. I also take one picture, and then jump back into life in front of the camera, whereas with digital I will often chimp to make sure that I got just what I wanted.
I picked up my first developed images today, my heart pounding all the way home as I thought anxiously about what might be waiting on the CD. I was sad to find out that I had loaded the b&w roll incorrectly and none of the images turned out (there is one in particular that I’m mourning, with gorgeous light in the hallway and T1 hugging T2 tightly in his arms) but I’m delighted by several in the color set. I’m looking forward to a time when I can take a film course and learn more about the different film stocks, cameras, and how everything works in the developing room.
The first image is from my getaway with That Husband in Carmel over Christmas, thanks to the babysitting gifted to us by my family. The one of me leaning on the wall in Chinatown was set up by me, with my friend clicking the shutter. T2 up on her toes sucking on a bottle makes me laugh, because she loves to dig in that drawer and pull out all of the sippy cups kid’s plates.
Even the mistakes make me smile. With digital I throw everything out that is shaky or has less-than-perfect focus. But I find myself smiling at the image of T1 shading his eyes in front of the sea lions on Pier 39. And T2 snuggling with her daddy.
Have you made the jump from digital to film photography? What film stocks should I explore next? I’m interested to see how I like Fuji 160C, which is my favorite VSCO preset in lightroom.