Last September, I registered for a photography conference that was going to be held in Utah and I signed up for a film workshop. I dusted off my film canon slr that I received senior year of college and it looked completely foreign to me. I had no idea how to use it on manual.
It took me until December to put a roll of film in it. And I thought once I did I would just fall in love with it. Feel this rush and this sense of accomplishment. All I felt was frustrated. It wouldn’t focus well. I could barely see through the viewfinder. I couldn’t figure out how to change the settings. I took about 10 frames. And then I put it down.
All of a sudden, the conference was happening in 2 weeks. I reached out to our instructor and asked her for help. She steered me toward a new(ish) film camera – a canon rebel 2000. The body cost me $40.00 on amazon. I received it in the mail, took a deep breath and put another roll of film in it. Took a few frames and it was a completely different feeling. I was excited. Still completely unsure of what the heck I was doing, but I felt a surge of creative energy.
Then I was standing in the beautiful salt waters of Antelope Island in Salt Lake City, Utah, with Rachel Nielsen and I had my digital camera and my film camera and I shot an entire roll of film. And the next day, I sat with Stephanie Bryan and learned so much and realized that likely NONE of my shots from the day before were exposed correctly and probably unusable and then shot 4 more rolls with her. I came home, and took my boys out and shot another roll. I was hooked.
And terrified. I’m a photographer. And in my younger years, I shot only on film. But I shot on auto. With no concept of anything technical. Here I am, several (many) years later and I was scared to send my film in to be developed. What if it was all horrible? What if my skills didn’t translate on film? What if the people at The Find Lab just laughed outloud when they developed my film? I couldn’t wait anymore though, I had to send it in. So I did. All 6 rolls. And I waited.
And this past Friday, I received my scans. The Find Lab will provide you technical feedback on your images if you choose basic + processing, which I did for all of my rolls of film (do it. seriously. it’s so incredibly valuable). So as I sat in the pre-school drop off line, I read through their very detailed email and I saw this “Wow, those silhouette/sunset shots blow me away.” And I think I let out a big breath. Those were the images I took at Antelope Island. So at least a few were okay.
Waiting for your film scans is like being a kid on Christmas Morning. I haven’t seen film images in a long time. I was fascinated. In love with the texture, the grain, the mood, the feel of it all. And lets be honest, I took 136 frames. And only about 75 were okay. So, my keeper rate is not fantastic right now. But I love that challenge. And this journey.
Shooting film forces you to be intentional. To really look for your shot. To pay attention to the light even more. To focus on quality over quantity. And it’s a really welcome and nice change of pace. I’m doing a 100 days of summer film project. One exposure a day. Of my kids. On film. I cannot wait. It starts tomorrow. So stay tuned. This feels like the start of something new. And I like it.
Here are some of my film favorites from my first few rolls.