It's been around four years since the photography bug sank its teeth into me in a serious way, and it's not showing any signs of letting go. Today I'm at a stage where I'm mostly happy with the work I'm producing; I feel like I've found my style and figured out what it is that I want to shoot. Note that I'm saying "mostly happy". I don't think I'll ever be completely happy, which is probably a good thing since it will force me to keep improving.
Lately I've begun exploring a new direction with my photography: I've entered the realm of analog cameras.
I started out with a worn Mamiya C330, which I managed to get fairly cheap, just to dip my toes and see if this was something that would really interest me. I've never shot a single frame of film before, so this was a completely new experience for me. What immediately caught my fancy about the whole process was the much slower and more deliberate way of shooting. You really have to stop and think before you press the shutter. There's also a randomness and unpredictability that can be both exciting and frustrating.
After realizing that I wanted to shoot more with film I started looking around for a camera in better condition that would fulfill all my needs. During my search I kind of fell in love with one of the true classics, the Hasselblad 500 C/M. It's a gorgeous camera that's very simple to operate and it's backed up by a very complete system that will let you customize it to suit pretty much any situation.
I only looked at medium format cameras since I figured that if I'm going to go through all the work of shooting with film, I want to get results that I wouldn't be able to get with my digital kit. Medium format does that for me with a look that's instantly recognizable as something different than anything you can shoot with digitally in my budget range.
At the time of writing I've only put one roll of film through my new camera but I'm very excited to shoot more with it.
So far I've had a lab do all the developing and scanning for me. I plan to eventually scan myself, both to get more control and to cut down long term costs. I have no interest in developing the film myself though, so I'll let the lab handle that bit in the future as well
Not only does the larger negatives of medium format give me a different look, the film itself also adds a lot of soul and a certain something, call it magic, if you will. There's something very organic and appealing about the colours and tonality, the way the image transitions between shadows and highlights and the inherent imperfections of the medium.
In no way does my new-found love for film mean that I will be abandoning digital photography. The two will coexist and be used for different things. To start with I think that a majority of my private snapshots will be taken with an analog camera from now on. In contrast, the more serious work will still be done with digital. The two will obviously cross paths as well and I'll simply have to see where this new direction takes me.
Though I haven't shot many rolls of film yet, you can find some of my favourites in the 'Analog' gallery. I have hopes that it will be updated fairly frequently with more and better photos during the coming year.
To those of you who are curious about trying to shoot film yourselves, all I can say is do it, don't think about, just do it. Even if it turns out it's not for you, I don't think you'll regret the experience.