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Why Film?

Since the very beginning of my photography journey, film has always been a part of it. Following on from my previous written piece on Creative Culture South West; my very first camera at the age of 6 was a 35mm point and shoot film camera. Despite at the age of 11 veering towards digital photography, around four years ago, my interest in film peaked yet again. And this time, with being much older, I looked at the format with a completely fresh perspective and point of view.

I dove in head first and would research everything known to man about film photography through Google, as well as photo-books and of course YouTube. I’ve learnt so very much about all things photography and more specifically film photography through various YouTube channels from film photographers such as Matt Day and Ted Forbes. To more recently in the past couple of years; Nick Exposed and Ben Horne. I had already bought an Olympus OM30 SLR with a basic lens set up, but it just wasn’t the camera for me unfortunately. Although, I did re-learn the absolute basics of film photography with that specific camera, which I’m extremely grateful for.

Moving back onto photo-books, they serve as such a fantastic inspiration, especially if I’m feeling a little lackluster creatively. From the all time greats such as Ansel Adams and Elliott Erwitt to then also purchasing fellow photographers’ zines, which are also bursting with brilliance.

As I continued to learn about this form of photography, my interest and passion for the art form in general grew exponentially. Simply getting back to the basics of how it all first started out for me, was incredibly rewarding. Going through that process once again of shooting the images and then sending them away to get developed / printed and building from the mistakes I had made with that roll, was invaluable for me as a photographer. One takes a different approach with film opposed to digital, for several reasons; one of which being the fact that everything is manual focusing, so you need to nail that focus to get the tact sharp image that you so desire, there’s definitely no relying on auto focus with film. The other significant difference is that every shot matters! I know that should very much be the case, no matter what your preferred format is. But the reality is, that with film you don’t have any of that ‘spray and pray’ thought process, not even in the least, as every single frame is sacred. I realised this even more when I was lucky enough to receive the perfect gift last Christmas; my very first medium format camera, in the form of a Yashica Mat. Now, I only had 12 shots on a roll, so every single capture on that roll of film was so much more important as the stakes to get a great photo were even higher, especially as film is certainly not something that’s an inexpensive pastime.

Medium format would absolutely be my favorite format (that I’ve tried so far), with my waist level viewfinder based Yashica Mat being the camera that I’m most excited to use when I’m out of the house pursuing my passion of photography. Since getting that camera nearly a year ago, my passion has heightened to such a degree, and not only for film, but for photography in general. I’ve learnt so very much about my work and myself as a photographer in correlation to starting to experiment with this format of film.

There’s so very much to love about film photography; one of the main things for me, is something which can be very subjective to the photographer, and that is the feel and the warmth that film brings to an image, opposed to digital. From experimenting with medium format in particular, there’s a true soul to the photograph and it presents such a strong feeling in the viewer of that image that is second to none.

Despite my preference being film photography, I’m most certainly a hybrid shooter (using both film and digital), that way I have the very best of both worlds.

In the future, to expand my film photography capabilities, I would absolutely love to learn how to process and develop my own film and maybe even at some point, have my very own darkroom at home, to enable me to create my own darkroom prints.
I would also truly like to venture into large format photography, most probably 4×5 at first, then maybe one day moving on to 8×10; now that would be something special and a brand new world to enter into.

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