I've finally decided to reacquaint myself with film photography, having found a handful of bargains at a local second hand camera shop.
As a kid, I grew up using film cameras. My earliest memories of taking pictures are using an old silver 110 format film camera. I don't know where any of the prints are, and I hasten to add they probably weren't any good, but I loved that camera. Through the years I progressed through to a 35mm point & shoot, and the more fancy APS series in my teens. My first experience of an SLR was borrowing my mums old Praktica for a first year uni project which I've since inherited. Even my first attempts a gig photography were technically on film - albeit from the crowd, using a shitty Max Spielmann disposable. Film photography had always been part of my life until digital came along, then it became neglected as digital is, well, better. Right..?
So why go back..?
I've been shooting shows professionally for ten years now, and over that time I have gradually felt my 'mojo' (ha! vom!) fade. I still love shooting gigs, but I've done less photography 'for fun'. I never take a camera with me (bar my phone) unless it's a job. Photography has evolved to the point it feels like work for me now, rather than something I take huge amounts of personal enjoyment from. I feel pretty sad just writing that, as ultimately the only reason I am where i am is because I took such enjoyment from shooting gigs in The Cockpit 12 years ago.
Film photography seemed like the obvious way for me to recapture the fun again. It was going to be a challenge for me, I'd have to be more selective in choosing my shots, pay more attention to exposure, start focusing manually, and all the while having to wait to find out if I'd got the right shot. In theory, it could only help tighten up some of the slack I've likely developed over the years, leaning on the various safety buffers shooting digitally gives you. And it also gave me something different to capture the rest of the world with - not just the confines of a photo pit.
So last year I started paying my local second hand camera shop a visit. The bloke in there - John, I believe he's called - was a proper camera guru. Every camera in the shop had a back story, and you could tell it's where his passion lay. I made several visits to the shop over a few months, and picked up three lovely second hand cameras:
Olympus Trip 35 (1980s)
A cool 35mm film compact camera from the 80s, with a fixed 40mm f2.8 lens. The controls on this thing are, at best, minimal. You choose one of three focal lengths (effectively 'close', 'not close' or 'far away') set your shutter speed, and you're away. Using the camera has been an absolute hoot as it's so simple, but there's a lot of guess work involved with focusing. You've no idea if your shots will be sharp or not, but that's all part of the fun!
Yashica MAT-124 (1970s)
My first ever medium-format camera! This thing is heaps of fun to use, but introduces several challenges. This is a dual lens reflex camera - one lens is used for the viewfinder, whilst the other directly beneath it takes the picture when you press the shutter release. there are various different knobs and dials for adjusting focus, shutter speed, aperture and film speed, but perhaps the most challenging thing with this camera is the fact the plains are inverted in the viewfinder. you turn left, your image moves right! It certainly takes some getting used to, but I've been impressed with the results I've had so far.
Pentax ME Super (1980s)
This was an impulse buy, recommended to me by John as an alternative to the somewhat price Canon AE-1 Program - a film SLR that's been on my wishlist for a while. This Pentax was going cheap for a quick sale, and was an absolute bargain! Unlike my other two cameras, this one feels much more familiar, with many of the same controls I'm used to with my digital SLRs - it's even got Aperture Priority auto exposure, which is pretty cool. Again, this camera is manual focus, but the 50mm f2.8 glass is stunning, and I've since treated myself to an additional 28mm f2.8 lens too. Can't wait to get out with this one some more this year!
As i get more comfortable with film photography over the year, I'll be looking for people to collaborate with. Does your band need some new promo pics, and you fancy that classic film feel? Hit me up, lets do it!
Here's some photos from my adventures so far..