By Zuzanna Waszak
I have inherited the passion for film photography from my dad. When I was little, he would always tell me stories about how as a teenager he spent his free time developing photos at his school’s darkroom. He never abandoned his hobby, being an avid photographer to this day. As a family, we always came back from a holiday with rolls and rolls of film and anxiously wait for them to get developed, to look through our pictures together for the very first time. I think my dad managed to infect both his children with his passion, as my brother is a part-time street photographer.
Still, as times changed, everyone switched to digital and so did we, using up all the rolls of film we had and moving with the times. A couple of years ago, when looking through the photos on my phone I realized how little thought we put into our photos. We tend to take bursts of pictures, taking tens of photos of the same thing, always thinking it could be a little better if we changed something. In day-to-day life, I feel like we strive too much to be perfectionists and I myself am guilty of it. Film is not edited to be exactly as we wanted it and that’s exactly what is so mesmerizing about analog photos.
Around the same time as I came to this realization, I stumbled upon a YouTube channel called “Negative Feedback”. If you have not heard of it and you are flirting with the idea of shooting film, I highly suggest you check it out. It is run by a young London-based photographer called George Muncey and his videos definitely helped me when I first started. His whole channel is about analog photography and not only is he a very talented artist but he also posts very helpful tips and reviews. His passion really shows through and even though he often takes pictures of mundane things, they have a unique beauty about them that might normally be overlooked.
To be completely honest, when I look at old photo albums I think that all the pictures are perfect, even though technically they might not be. Back in the day we didn’t overthink them, even though we put thought into them. The pictures were supposed to tell a story and save our memories and they did it perfectly well. To properly cherish our memories, we would make photo albums from physical prints and not just keep them on our hard drive. It was much more of a hands-on experience, having to load the film instead of just inserting a memory card.
A typical roll of film has either 24 or 36 exposures, while a 32GB memory card can hold thousands of photos. Film photography makes you think, but not overthink. You don’t just take random photos of anything you stumble upon, which is most probably the case with your iPhone camera. The pure fact of limited ‘storage’ will make you question taking multiple pictures of the same thing. Once you see your final result, I guarantee you will be happy with it and you will not regret not taking more.
Some get intimidated by the price of analog photography. When you think about it though, it is not as expensive as it may seem. To have great pictures you don’t need any fancy film. Plus, you probably have an old camera lying around somewhere in your parents’ closet and if not, you can find one for as little as 15€. After all, there are far more expensive hobbies out there. Another cool thing about film photography in my opinion is the lack of instant gratification, which is a nice break from the fast paced XXI century reality and a good reminder that the best things in life are worth waiting for.
When deciding to use film, you might need to be prepared to explain your choice to a lot of people. For me, the answer is simple. Film has the ability to capture beauty no iPhone ever will, no matter how many lenses it has. A film photo is a physical capture of a moment in time while a digital photo is just a collection of colorful pixels. Without getting into too much technical detail about aperture, shutter speed or light meters, which I think would just be boring and a little scary for a non-enthusiast, to me, film is a bit of a magical experience you don’t encounter with a digital camera.