In 2009, I feel in love. Not with a person, but with photography.
It was the year when DSLR was still damn expensive, but that didn’t stop me. I kept trying to get my hands on any camera, from my friend’s and college’s DSLR to a toy film camera called Olymbus (Olympus knock off). I was pretty happy with it until I saw an old Yashica FX-3 Super 2000, an analog SLR, lying around at my parents house. I grabbed it and had it fixed at a local camera shop downtown.
I used Yasinan (the name I gave to FX-3 Super 2000) extensively for a year and loved it dearly. But I still wanted a digital gear. So when my mom bought me Nikon D5000 in 2010, I was over the moon.
First and foremost, I’m no aficionado. I wouldn’t go that far calling my self so. I don’t tinker with the whole shebang about photography and its technicality. Hell, I don’t even dare call my self a photographer. I never dreamed of making a career out of it. I just happen to love beauty and want to capture and share it. As far as I know, photography makes it possible.
So that’s why it was such a shock to me when, after another extensive use, I suddenly got tired of my D5000. It’s not like I’m not happy with it: it’s great and all, I mean I used it all the time at particular moments in my life. But then one day, it felt like someone just turned the switch and I stopped taking picture at all.
It was not entirely bad, though, because it made way for another love, an old one that I used to cherish pre-D5000. It’s the love for analog photography.
Yeah, this tends to happen to milennials because how else can we put up a show on social media?
Anyhoo, there is a certain level of uncertainty in analog photography that I like. It’s like that quote from Forrest Gump movie about life and a box of chocolate: you never know what you’re gonna get. You shoot something and you wait until you get the film developed. Meanwhile, you mostly don’t have any idea how your photos will turn out.
There is also a thing about shooting with film that speaks of presence and attentiveness. You become more aware of your photograph–the composition, exposure, all that shit. You take things very slow it’s almost meditative.
You actually see the the world through the plain old viewfinder. You spot the subject (in the case of photowalking), adjust the shutter speed, aperture (the ISO is pre-determined by the film) focus and angle. Then you take a shot and move on to the next subject. That’s it. No fumbling with other settings, no preview, no deleting. Once you shoot a photo, it will be forever there on the film (unless you get it burned).
Provided with very limited exposures, you become less and less shutter happy and therefore you carefully choose what to shoot and carefully compose your photos. This level of awareness is rarely felt when I shoot digital. With digital, it’s hard not to be a perfectionist because delete button is always a thumb away. Shooting analog lets you embrace imperfectness. And that, to me, is its charm.
And don’t get me started on how I love the look and feel of film photographs. There is a reason why vintage/retro filters on photo editing apps exist. I’m glad that I don’t have to apply those ugly artificial looks on my photographs when I post them online because they already look good enough. They don’t need any digital alteration because they are perfect in their on way (and still I refuse to add #NoFilter on the caption, it’s tacky).
So last April, I decided to pick up my old Yasinan and started shooting with it again. Eventually, I posted my photos on Instagram and found tons of communities, both global and local, striving to keep analog photography going. There are many film shooters taking on this digital platform to show off their analog works, and boy are they amazing.
Soon I came to know that there are professional photographers who still shoot film (here and here). Some even take a giant leap back in time using tintype cameras like what photog Victoria Will did for this year’s Sundance Film Festival celebrity photoshoot. Awesome.
It’s not always easy, though, shooting analog. There will always be a setback or two. Photographic films are seriously scarce here in Indonesia, not to mention how expensive they are. The same applies to the cost of film developing and I think this won’t change a lot in the long run.
But still, for the things I mentioned earlier, I won’t refrain from shooting film. And I think neither will them film folks on Instagram or anyone out there who think that analog photography is worthy to survive in this everything-is-digital world.
If you happen to be on Instagram too, check out #filmisnotdead, #buyfilmnotmegapixels, and #35mm (among many others) hashtags. You may want to join this analog conversation too one day. Who knows.
This post is to celebrate 2015 Film Photography Day. Featured image courtesy of Velentina (Yashica FX-3 Super 2000 x Fuji Superia 200). Visit my Instagram for more film photographs.