a little bit of everything and a whole lot of film

27 Dec 2017

Feed the Obsession | Film Photography

I have always been fascinated by film photography. I would not call myself a photographer by any means but this past year my fascination has blossomed into full blown obsession. Why film photography, you ask? I ask myself that every time as well. Let me try and put my emotions and reasoning into words.

1. It reminds me of my childhood. 
I'm a 90's kid and I remember my parents giving me this tiny point and shoot film camera (brand unknown) which I carried with me everywhere. I'd orchestrate mini photoshoots with my friend Ai. I'd take photos of my friends and classmates then stick them onto scrapbooks. I still have the scrapbooks and it makes me smile every time I leaf through them. I remember one Christmas I wished so hard for a Polaroid camera - especially the Polaroid i-zone, which spat out mini photos with adhesive backs so you could stick them anywhere. Lo and behold, Santa came through but he gave me a Polaroid One Step 600 instead which, in hindsight, was even better. Thus the love for instant photos began and from then on out, I always made sure to have an instant camera. I currently have 3.

2. It makes you stop and think.
The process of film photography may be tedious and time consuming for some, if not most people. You have to choose the appropriate film stock, determine the shutter speed and the aperture, measure the light and compose the shot, this especially if you are shooting with an SLR. And this must happen for every single shot you take. Film is expensive and whereas with a digital camera you can take thousands of shots with no thought of waste or expense, if you try that with film you are going to be one very broke film photographer (hence the hashtag #staybrokeshootfilm). So why shoot film if you it's going to be expensive? Because the process is priceless and the outcome even more so. I find myself slowing down and becoming mindful with every shot I take and the best thing is, that mindfulness and the awareness of things around me has trickled into my daily life. In this world where everything is currently fast paced, rushed and quite frankly, extremely stressful - I find myself stopping and thinking and breathing with film.

3. It produces the most exquisite photos.
This no one can dispute. Photos on film evoke many different emotions and convey so much more feeling than digital photos which tend to look sharp and sterile. For me, film photos have so much character and may tell so many stories even  just with a single picture. It's romantic, dreamy and sentimental - but that's just me. But don't get me wrong, film photography may also be sharp and incredibly detailed - just browse through any vintage National Geographic magazine (or Vogue, if you so prefer but make sure it's vintage, circa 1930-1980) and tell me it isn't so.

4. Creation.
Film photography is not just about taking photos. It is also development, processing and printing. Once you have mastered film development and printing, then there's no stopping you. That feeling of having created something with your vision and then your hands is euphoric. Light, chemistry and paper. It's magical, isn't it?

Those are the top 4 reasons why I prefer to shoot film. I still have not mastered developing although I have now stocked up on black and white chemistry and am saving up to get a processing kit next. For now, I send my film to 3 places.

Carmencita Film Lab - They are located in Valencia, Spain and you would have to fill out an online order form and send your films to them for processing. Processing and scanning takes about a week, then you can then pick and choose which shots you would like to have printed. They are impeccable in their service and the photos come out AMAZING. They are pricey though so best to send in bulk to get the most bang for your buck.

Kodak Photo Fast - (Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai next to Crowne Plaza Hotel) Processing and scanning can take a day or two for C-41 and a week for B&W. A contact sheet/index sheet is provided but negatives are not properly archived so you would have to archive them yourself.

Filmoticon Spacelab - an independently run home lab based in Sharjah, UAE. Processing and scanning may take a day or two. You send your film via Fetchr and archival of negatives is provided.

Currently in the arsenal:

1. Canon AE-1
2. Polaroid Land 320
3. Instax Wide 210
4. Instax Mini 90
5. Holga 135bc TLR
6. Holga 120 CFN
7. Blackbird Fly TLR
9. Diana F Dreamer
10. Yashica EZ Zoom
11. Lomography La Sardina
12. Olympus MJU ii Zoom 80
13. Olympus MJU ii
14. Lomography Fisheye

and counting. Yes, I am obsessed.

In case you want to check out my photos:

Tumblr - www.hystericserenity.tumblr.com
Instagram - @michellinecuna


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