I absolutely love working with my clients to capture their fleeting moments and I love working on editorial assignments photographing beautiful things and meeting amazing people. Last year was wonderfully busy and full of both types of shooting! I loved every second of it, but I noticed I hadn't been taking many photographs just for me. I wanted to challenge myself to try something new with my photography. After several months of thinking about reintroducing myself to film photography, I dragged my dad's Canon AE-1 Program out of the closet and decided it was time for some experimentation.
What if I couldn't remember how to shoot film??? It's so different from digital photography. What if I couldn't even remember how to load the film? Luckily there were some unused rolls lingering in the camera bag. They were cheap rolls and at least 10 years old. I thought to myself, what the heck do I have to lose. First problem, the battery was dead. The thing hadn't been changed since who knows when. Once the battery was replaced I encountered my second problem. I had indeed forgotten how to load the film (oh the shame!). So I busted out the manual and refreshed my memory. Then I looked through the viewfinder and realized how spoiled my little digital photography brain had become over the years. I then headed outside for some practice.
I took the first frame and promptly looked at the back of the camera, where the LCD screen would be on my DSLR. Of course there was nothing there and I immediately thought to myself, I. AM. SPOILED. The instant gratification of seeing a digital photograph seconds after you take it is something I definitely take for granted. I am embarrassed to say that I looked at the back of the camera after I shot the next several frames. I didn't break myself of the habit completely, but it got better after I finished the first roll.
That's when I decided to get serious. I went to Calagaz Photo to buy some film. Thankfully, they still carry my favorite black and white film stock from Ilford. Over the next couple of months I shot a few frames here and there. I went to Amelia Island, Fla. and Savannah, Ga. on a vacation and only shot film. While in Savannah I found a camera supply store and that is when things got exciting. Not only did I find some professional color film (Ektar 100 and Fuji 400H), I also found some used lenses for the AE-1. I came home from the trip with two new vintage lenses (85mm and 35mm) and again thought to myself, I. AM. SPOILED. because today's lenses in those focal lengths can run between a few hundred and thousands of dollars. I got these two lenses for under $250 combined!!
When I returned home I continued to shoot film, another roll of black and white and a roll of Ektar. Then I went back to Calagaz to get all the rolls I'd shot, the cheap old film, the Ilford Black and White and the Ektar 100, processed and scanned to a disc. I got the scans back in the midst of busy season, so I looked through them quickly, shared a couple and then filed them away.
Today I am FINALLY sharing a whole post of these film photographs. These were shot over several months and are not really a series, but they all represent my return to film, something I hope to continue to shoot regularly from now on. Yes, film is more expensive than digital. Yes, you have to wait to see your results. Yes, digital is easier and more forgiving. But, there is something special about film. It feels organic. It feels vintage. It feels honest. It feels authentic. It feels challenging. It feels old and new at the same time. Shooting film again after an eight year break from it was like seeing an old friend again for the first time in years. I look at these photographs and smile. I love the grain, the imperfection and the simplicity. Here's a look at some of my favorite frames (and a few of my not so favorites). Enjoy!
Amelia Island, FL | Amelia Island Coffee Shop (Ilford HP5 film)
I love street scenes in black and white. Plus, the film camera is a lot lighter to tote around when you're on vacation. :)
Walking the streets of Savannah, GA.
Inside The Paris Market, one of my favorite places in Savannah (followers of the blog will remember my past visit to this awesome shop). Their cafe has the best infused water, which is quite thirst quenching on a hot summer's day.
Papillot is another Parisian themed business in Savannah and I LOVE their croissants.
Back home, I finished the roll.
These shots from my session with Cassie and Will were taken with the old, cheap film found in the camera bag. The colors are darker and moodier than I prefer, but they're still keepers.
After I finished off the color film, I loaded up the camera with more black and white film. Sadly, this is the only frame that I took of them in black and white.
The Ektar 100 BLEW. MY. MIND. I love the tones that this film produces. So rich and beautiful.
I also love seeing the color difference depending on the light and where I took my meter reading.
I spotted this artist in the background as I was photographing the flowers. I am so excited this shot turned out! She was so kind and let me photograph her easel with the painting she was working on. I wanted to take more, but the shot of the easel was the last on the roll and I didn't have a second roll with me.
Of course I practiced on some food. Figs were in season so I couldn't help myself. The image on the left is a cropped version of the shot on the right. The cropped version is also slightly edited in Photoshop.
Such a different result between front lighting and backlighting a photo. This fig tree has a lot of memories attached to it and I'm so glad I captured it on film.
The good and the bad...clearly I did not have my settings correct for the photo on the right. I found myself wishing I could look at the metadata for the photos as I can with my digital images to see what aperture and shutter speed I used.
One of the very first frames I shot on the old, cheap film. I wasn't thrilled with this one. It looked to grainy and muddy to me.
I just love Kodak's Ektar 100. I need to write Darryl at Bay Camera Company in Savannah and thank him for recommending this film stock to me. I had my heart set on Kodak's Portra film, but I am so glad I got this instead. Just look at how it captured the colors in the sky!
I couldn't help editing this one a little bit, but it really didn't need to be enhanced. Another bonus of shooting film...less time spent at the computer editing. :)