Rediscovering Analogue Photography
I first started taking photographs with a Kodak Land Camera which was a large flat looking beast into which you asserted a film cartridge with a gel pouch at the bottom. The camera was a very basic point and shoot with the added fun that a photograph popped out of the machine. After waving it about and blowing on it for a few second the image would appear piece by piece. This was great fun and almost instant. The results were rarely great but it was the immediacy which was the fun part.
My parents had owned a Kodak Brownie before that but it had only come out on special occasions and recorded events in black and white. I still have a few of those shots to remind of obsolete traditions such as the town parade where we all dressed up and walked around the town. I was smitten with photography and at College I bought a Praktica TL1000 35mm manual Single Lens Reflex camera. In the mid1990s I supplemented it with a Vivitar pocket camera which produced decent enough snaps with Fomapan film. I acquired a crate of processed 35mm slide and negative film which went in my mother’s loft for a few years.
In 2002 I bought a Nikon Coolpix 4300 (which I still use) for around £400 and became a total digital convert. I even gave away my Praktica. During the early part of the 21st century 35mm film became scarcer and more difficult to develop. Increasingly developing shops concentrated on digital prints. The last big outing for my Praktica was a trip to America in 2004. On that trip I used both analogue and digital cameras but the digital was winning since I could see the results instantly and not having to wait for 24 hour service. On my return, I went fully digital with a Sony DSLR.
But I still had a hankering for old film. I picked up several classic models at charity shops and online but had problems finding films. For a time I owned my own Polaroid Land Camera. The Impossible Project had rescued one of the Polaroid machines used to make the instant film cartridges but it was difficult and expensive to get the films. I eventually sold the camera on but endlessly lamented the loss.
I rescued the box of old films and photos from my mother’s loft and spend many winters scanning them on to a PC using an Epson scanner. It was a laborious process and I got fed up of it. I purchases several specialist scanners before selling them on barely used as the results were not worth the time taken up.
I did go back to analogue briefly about 2007 when I bought a Lomography Sampler at the Science Museum in London. It was fun for a while but I had no real interest in multiple images of the same thing taken microseconds apart. I used it a while and sold it on.
A church. Chester Cathedral?
And then last year I paid a visit to the London Photographer’s Gallery. True I had been before but on that day I wandered down into the basement and saw all the goodies they had: Fomapan film, Kodak film, Fuji Film, Lomo film, specialist film, everyday film, throwaway cameras, instant film and camera, lots of cameras. I had an upcoming trip to Belarus and wanted to take some artistic photographs of my trip. I was sold back on analogue.
Cricklewood North London.
Ebay provided me with an old Fuji Instant Camera and a couple of boxes of film, a Pentax 35mm auto SLR and batteries (it is not easy to get hold of some of these old batteries) and a Canon Ixus APX (both around 20 years old) and I was off. The Fuji had a few outings in London but was too unpredictable for my liking and expensive to boot. It is now about to go to a new home. The Pentax is my pride and joy. I take it off to Regents Park for photo shoots. The Canon went to Belarus and the result was some excellent photographs. Now I take it everywhere.
Somewhere near Prague in 1995.
I have just acquired a Lomography film scanner and my old 35mm films are coming back to life. What a record of my travels they are! I am still getting the hang of it but already I am retrieving my past.
Apartment blocks in Usti nad Labem, CZ
It is now quite expensive to have films developed and printed so when I take my old cameras out I think about the shot rather than taking lots of shots. With this new careful consideration has come a renewed appreciation of the art of photography and I am loving it. I am hooked all over again just like I was at 19.