I was in London for the day today, and I was shooting lots of photographs.
But I have nothing to show for it. It feels very strange. Let me explain.
The very first thing I ever sold on eBay, way back in 2003, was my old film SLR camera, which I’d not used for a couple of years. A Yashica 108 MP, in case you were wondering. And since then, I’d not used a film camera. Today, ambling from King’s Cross to Hoxton, then down to the Gherkin, and back the same route, I was shooting with film once again.
It feels weird. Not sure I like it very much. I mean, there’s something undeniable lovely about the camera itself (a borrowed Olympus OM-1) and the very tactile, organic feel of it, but shooting with film felt like just such a different process. To add to the strangeness, I’d gone out with just one 28mm prime lens (that’s ‘no zoom’ for those who don’t know what it means) and was also shooting black and white. Oh, and it’s fully manual. Even my old Yashica had an aperture priority mode.
All of these things made it feel very odd.
Fixed lens was the easiest thing to cope with. It’s not much different from shooting with an iPhone, really. Yes, I know you can zoom with an iPhone but there’s not much point as it’s entirely digital so I don’t usually bother. Black and White? Well, I know it’s all arty and that, but London is just so vibrant and full of colour it seemed a waste not to be able to capture it. At least with digital you can shoot colour and decide later if you’d prefer to print in black and white. Not having the choice is seems oddly restricting. Shooting film seemed different because I felt like I had to think much more about each shot. Each shot costs money, after all, so I didn’t want to be snap-happy. This is probably a good thing.
I was hoping to be bold and confident and shoot mainly people, and mainly up close. I’d been quite pleased with a couple of results last week (particularly this chap who I shot from about two foot away) but today it just wasn’t working. I love the sort of street shots that people like Martin Parr, Bruce Gilden, Elliott Erwitt and so on take, but maybe I’m realising that their kind of approach* just isn’t for me. I’ll persevere with it to see if I can build my confidence. The whole point of me doing this degree is to try different things out and experiment with a range of genres and styles, after all. Well, and to eventually get me out of working in an office. In any case, it wasn’t happening today so I ended up mostly shooting buildings and stuff. Which is appropriate as the first assignment we have a deadline for is an architecture shoot.
Anyway, I digress. The main reason shooting with film felt so very different is this: I have no idea if I’ve got anything to show for my day’s shooting. Not the faintest idea. I hope I’ve got some nice shots. I think I might have some nice shots. But until I’ve learned how to process a film, I have no way of knowing.
And that’s why this blog post has no pictures.
UPDATE: I’ve finally been able to release some of those photos from the film for all to see. Update here.