It's been just over a year now since I first gave 35mm photography a go. This venture began out of mere curiosity but as I clumsily get to grips with what this hobby is all about, I find myself slowly becoming more invested and far more passionate about the art of capturing images. ‘Passion’ might sound a bit keen and frisky, but this is now a fully-fledged interest of mine, and I love it.
Just yesterday I took another film to the post office to be sent to Hull, home of trusty Photo Express who develop and scan my photos for me, quick as a flash. The turnaround is fast, so I hope to be able to share them with you soon.
For now, it's worth mentioning what I've been snapping these last 7 months since I did this post about portraits and black & white photography.
That was back in June 2018 and up until that point I had been here there and everywhere, spending a penultimate weekend in Paris before coaching my way to Madrid and flying into Malaga to see friends. I then spent a last week in Paris before nipping home, tagging along on a family holiday to Croatia and then getting ready to set off to see the New World. It was actually the very day of that blog post that I left for South America to spend a phenomenal five weeks of travelling with my girlfriend, Zoe.
As you might imagine, throughout this whirlwind of escapades across the globe, I had been snapping away eagerly with my Minolta. I learnt to pack my carry-on bag like a pro leaving, amongst a minimal number of outfits and the bare minimum of toiletries, a perfectly-sized, camera-shaped hole. This meant my camera was more often than not at arm’s reach and I could really make the most of what I saw in these wonderful places.
The trouble was that I hadn't settled in one place long enough to be able to see the photos I'd been taking. The Kodak shop in Paris took at least 4 days to develop making it too risky to drop them in on the Monday of my last week, knowing I was leaving that Friday. Once I got home I had no idea where to take my films, it took a bit of research online to find that Photo Express was a suitable and cost-effective place to send them. While living in Paris, I had grown accustomed to reviewing my photography at the end of each roll of film, being patient enough to wait for 4 days and I’d rarely take any pics in that time.
I would then walk along cobbled Parisian streets and over Les Halles to reach the tiny photography shop, nestled between a vintage clothes shop and a gay bar on probably one of my favourite streets for a drink that’s about as cheap as they get this side of the river.
In order to demonstrate will-power and show resistance to temptation I would often attempt to delay gratification by saying to myself "I won't look at these until I get home". Occasionally this did work, and I'd find myself sat on the bed of my airy street-facing room thumbing through the prints. Though more often than not, I'd round the corner of Rue des Lombards and, overcome with the urge to feast my eyes on sweet captured memories of the past, I’d tear open the pack, fanning them out in my hands, searching for the ones I’d been most eagerly anticipating.
The fact that I waited to see the outcome of the last roll before finishing the next meant that on looking at the prints I would see which came out nicely and which ones I had blundered. I would be motivated by both the former and the latter and adjust my style accordingly. Fortunately, the number of unusable photos on each roll of film has decreased considerably since this all began.
But there I was on 8thJune 2018, bound for Santiago de Chile, knowing the photo opportunities ahead would be aplenty but with no pointers gleaned from the past few months of shooting, I had to really pay attention to what I was doing with all this expensive film.
I happily made my way through 3 rolls of Kodak Portra 400, 3 rolls of Kodak ColorPlus and 1 roll of Ilford HP5. The issue of being unable to review my photos continued so I made sure that as much as possible I was taking my time with each shot. Was the aperture set how I wanted it? Was the shutter speed going to be fast enough? How did I want this picture to look? Was I holding the camera straight? Did I need to use a tri-pod? I maintained this mental repetition and just kept my fingers crossed that they would all turn out OK.
Towards the end of the trip I had a little yellow plastic bag containing all the used films I’d gotten through. As you can imagine this bag became one of our most valuable pieces of luggage! The other worry was that all the security X-rays from the numerous flights we took would affect the films but there was nothing to be done about this and thankfully all my rolls made it home unscathed and the outcome was very satisfying.
Photo Express developed all of my films and then scanned them at a high-resolution onto a CD. As usual I marvelled at some and felt a touch of disappointment with others. The overriding experience was being taken down memory lane to all these moments that I'd captured; some which I'd remembered from the moment, excited to see how the picture would turn out, others brought forgotten memories flooding back via these beautiful visual aids.
The end of summer saw a few sly trips abroad, a week in Biarritz with friends from home, more time in Paris tying up loose ends; closing my bank account etc as an excuse to see my wonderful friends before heading back to reality. From October I was back at university, trying my best not to feel gloomy about being in Southampton. As well as being preoccupied with university work and having to apply myself for the first time in a long while, feelings of monotony and waning inspiration in this seemingly insipid environment led to a 4-month dry spell in which my creative outlets seemed to be sealed off.
I had a crack at some writing but to little or no avail and my photography all but ceased, save for two photos taken in Leeds at the beginning of December. It wasn’t until New Year’s Eve with Zoe that I managed to find my feet with it again.
2019 is now well and truly upon us and despite juggling exams and work, I’ve rattled my way through a whole film in about 20 days. I suppose then this is my pledge to keep my artistic outputs ticking over more consistently this year; continuing to share my images on instagram and staying updated with my thoughts on here. So, stay tuned for posts on photography in a foreign country, a breakdown of the photos on the 4-month roll and the outcome of the latest, more inspired spell of shooting.