Film photography is making a huge comeback these days. More and more people are discovering (and rediscovering) the magic of shooting analog. I can’t lie. I’m one of those people who’s helplessly hooked on film cameras and testing many different film stocks.

HOW I GOT STARTED IN SHOOTING ANALOG

I’ve been shooting in digital for a long time. I’ve even made it into something I can earn money from. But shooting in analog has always been one of my goals. It wasn’t until last 2017 that I actually started doing something to pursue it.

A college friend of mine added me to Lomomanila Marketplace. It’s a closed Facebook group for people who are buying and selling film cameras and film stocks. Honestly, the wide range of choices was overwhelming. I didn’t know what camera to buy and what roll of film to try.

It took me a while to finally buy my first SLR which was an Asahi Pentax SV. It’s a fully manual camera made from 1962 to 1970. Unfortunately, I didn’t make full use of it because it broke after my second roll of Fujicolor C200.

I shipped it back to the seller and settled on a point and shoot camera which was the Fujica Auto-7. All of the film photos I took during my cross-country trip in Singapore, Malaysia and Cambodia last November 2017 was taken with that camera. 

I absolutely loved the Fujica but I decided to challenge myself even more so I bought a Canonet QL19 GIII. It’s a rangefinder camera made in the ’60s. Rangefinders have a different focusing mechanism and it’s the most interesting camera I’ve used so far. 

The Canonet QL19 GIII was my go-to camera for all my travels in 2018. It was also my practice camera when I decided to transition from shooting in digital to fully shooting in analog. It doesn’t require a battery to function (unless you’re going to use the built-in light meter) and it’s small enough to fit in my carry on bag.

I recently purchased my second SLR and it’s an all-black version of the Canon AE-1. I haven’t tested it yet as of writing but I’m planning to load it with 35mm black and white films for a photo documentary project. 






WHY SHOOT FILM?

This question has been thrown at me over and over by people who are either curious or don’t really see the value in film photography. 

You might think, “We’re in the digital age and we can shoot tons of photos we want without having to worry about the number of shots left. The look and feel of film can be replicated with presets from VSCO anyway.

I totally understand but here’s the thing. For me, film photography teaches so much about patience and the beauty of imperfections.

Since you’re limited to a certain number of shots depending on the film stock you’re using — there are rolls that have 39, 36, or 24 exposures — it requires you to think hard about your shots. You can’t go trigger happy and there’s no screen on the back that lets you check if you’ve taken a good photo or not. You have to make each shot count. It trains you to be more observant and to think about many different possible angles for your subject. As you keep practicing, you develop your creative eye.

Film photography teaches you to be patient and to enjoy the process. You can’t have your rolls developed and receive your scans in a minute. Photo labs usually take several hours to process your rolls. If you’re developing and scanning on your own, you still have to go through all the process and it will take hours. I know that sounds complicated and time-consuming but like all the great things in life, it takes time. 

Once you receive your scans, you’ll be surprised by your outcome. There are countless times when I thought a certain shot will look terrible but when I check my scans, the outcome looks great. Sometimes I tend to get bad shots too like when the subject is out of focus or when it’s a bit under or overexposed but there’s a certain layer of charm to it that I still find it beautiful. 

Another thing that I love so much about shooting in analog is that I’m not tempted to edit it anymore aside from cropping, resizing, and optimizing it for social media and website use. 






HOW TO START SHOOTING IN FILM

A. GET A FILM CAMERA

If you’re planning to start shooting in analog, the first thing you have to do, of course, is to get a film camera. You can start with using a disposable camera. It’s so easy to use since it’s only a point and shoot camera. It’s inexpensive and easy to lug around. Plus, you get 36 or 39 exposures depending on the type of disposable camera that you get. 

You can also get an SLR. Some Youtubers and professional film photographers recommend getting SLRs like the Canon AE-1 or Minolta X-700. Check out this video by one of my favorite film photographers, Eduardo Pavez. His recommendations are gold. 

B. BUY AND LOAD YOUR CAMERA WITH FILM

Of course, when you have a film camera you need to load it with film unless you’re using a disposable. Disposables already have a roll in them. You can literally just go and shoot. 

If you have an SLR or a rangefinder or a point and shoot camera that isn’t a disposable like the Fujica Auto-7, you need to load it with 35mm film. There's a lot of different type of film out in the market and sometimes it gets confusing. I suggest getting a Fujicolor C200 or a Kodak ColorPlus 200 if you’re starting out. It’s two of the cheapest film stocks out in the market. In the Philippines, they’re sold around 250 to 300 Pesos. 

C. GO SHOOT!

There’s really no better way to familiarize your camera, discover the magic of shooting in analog, and learning new things other than to go out and shoot. Watch Youtube videos and read blog posts about film photography. Then put whatever you’ve picked up from the videos and posts into practice. 







SOME TIPS

1. KEEP YOUR ROLLS IN YOUR CARRY ON WHEN TRAVELING 

When you’re traveling and shooting in film and you go through airport security, it’s advised to keep rolls of fresh film in your carry on bag instead of putting it in your checked in luggage. This is what I usually do. Film rolls that have 400 ISO (a film roll’s level of sensitivity to light) or less are safe from X-ray scanners for carry-ons. You can also ask security to do a hand check and when they ask why let them know that you’re carrying rolls of film. Most airport securities usually allow this. 

2. KEEP BRINGING YOUR DIGITAL CAMERA UNTIL YOU’RE COMFORTABLE TO LEAVE IT BEHIND

If you’re planning to switch from shooting in digital to fully shooting in analog like me, I suggest keep bringing your digital camera for the first few trips until you’re comfortable to leave it behind. 

I used to ask myself if there are moments in my travels I won't be able to capture. Eventually, I learned to be satisfied with whatever shot I take with my film camera. That’s why it’s so important to think about your shots carefully. Also, if you have a phone with a decent camera, you can take photos with it too. 


***


So there you have it! I hope this has inspired you to start diving into film photography. Just keep shooting, whether in analog or digital. Let people see the world through your eyes. 

Pearl Aton is a freelance creative from the Philippines. She posts her work and thoughts on her website, pearlaton.com.

Post a Comment

© Vivre Lifestyle. Design by FCD.