Tuesday 17 January 2017

Going Analogue

My secondary school had a darkroom that was literally built inside a cupboard. It attached to the main photography classroom via a door with an elaborate curtain set up to keep the light out and it was my favourite place in the whole school. I would spend entire lessons in there and then stay on during lunch or after school to keep going.

No one else in my class really liked shooting film. I was always the only person in the darkroom after school, our teacher in the next room or sometimes not even there at all, trusting me to know what I was doing (until he walked in once and found me eating a pasty over the enlarger with a coke balanced behind it. Then I got a little bit of a telling off.) To me, film felt like magic. Waiting for a photograph to develop, watching an image appear on a blank piece of paper in the faintly eery glow of a red light, that was the closest I would ever get to Hogwarts.

Digital is safer. That's why everyone else in my class preferred it. You can look at the image you've just taken straight away, there's no cost of film or developing, and Photoshop is always there to help make the image look exactly how you imagined. These are all the reasons I mostly use digital now too and there's nothing wrong with that. I'm certainly not going to stop using Instagram. But I want to use my film cameras again too. I want the excitement of not quite knowing how the image will look until it's too late.

I may not have access to a darkroom any more but I can still have a little of that thrill. Filling my roll of film with images, dropping off that little canister at the photography shop in town, and waiting for that phone call two days later. Waiting to get that little packet of prints, 6x4 on gloss paper. That moment just before I peel back the top of the envelope and see my photos for the first time. I can still watch my instant prints develop before my eyes, the colour slowly fading in, that moment when you think the white is sticking around for a little too long and then the first blooms start to appear.

I'm not quite ready to do a 365 project like Rhianne, on digital or on film (mostly because at least 350 of those images would just be me sitting at my desk staring at a blank page all day) but her 366 project of last year has inspired me to want to take my film cameras out more. This year I want to shoot at least four rolls of 35mm and more shots on my Instax camera. I'll be shooting colour film, which is relatively new to me (we always used black and white at school because the photography department couldn't afford all the equipment for colour printing) and these are films that have been sitting in my desk drawer for years so there's a good chance that I'll only end up with a handful of decent images to share here but that's okay. That's part of the magic too.


1 comment:

  1. I don't think I've used film since school, although I greatly enjoyed it when I took my photography course. It was one of my favorites my last year and it really helped encourage my love for the art. Nowadays I rely more on my digital camera, and you're absolutely right about it being so much safer in so many ways. I'd like to get an Instax at some point because I don't know if I have the patience for 35mm, at least right now. Good luck on your shooting goals! I look forward to seeing what photos you get out of it. :)