Hands up if you remember Film? Or when Kodak where known for making film and not cheap printers? I cut my teeth shooting film on a Hasselblad similar to the cameras that NASA used for their Apollo moon missions and early Shuttle launches. And no I’m not that old !! Well… ok I am, but I was only 3 and a bit when man first stood on the moon.
Like (nearly) every photographer I know, I couldn’t wait to rush feet first into the brave new digital world. A few didn’t fancy the vertical learning curve so they stayed shooting film. I think they have different career paths now. In the early days there was many days and hours spent in front of a computer screen with copious amounts of coffee with very little achieved. Today I still spend many hours in front of a computer screen with copious amounts of coffee, but now I’m much more productive!
I sold off my film equipment and said goodbye to film forever a long time ago, well not quite. Around 2007, a client contacted me about a special project that involved working with film and asked could I help? After explaining that it was work destined for Smithsonian Institution, Washington it was an easy yes. Most of the project was shot digitally but a few rolls had to be shot on Black & White Film. It was only a very brief flirtation with film again; I thought that it would be Auf Wiedersehen forever.
Today, with just about every professional photographer shooting digitally (I don’t know of any pros shooting film but I’m sure somewhere in the world there might be) as it’s the only sustainable way to have a photography business. Our world is too fast moving with everything wanted yesterday. All thoughts of film where consigned to the past with no place in a modern world… right? This is where you’re thinking that I have lost my mind or had a brain bypass and I’m going to declare film is the future. I’m not saying that I don’t need a brain bypass or haven’t lost my mind but film isn’t our or my future, well not right now.
But strange things happen at important points in your life. Now I’m not really a big believer in fate but sometime you have to sit up and take notice. While moving boxes around in my in-law’s roof space (oh the glamorous life of a photographer) I came across a large box of my old negatives, some of you young’ens may now need to Google ‘film negative’ at this point. I brought them home but had no plans for them but had fun looking through them.
Sadly around the same time a friend passed away who was a great B&W photographer. A week or so after his family offered me his darkroom equipment, which I immediately said yes to. The problem with equipment like this is that nobody wants it and it inevitably ends up being dumped. But this was high-end equipment and I didn’t want that to happen. Besides finding my negs again had me wishing.
I’ve had a long-term project that I’ve been kicking around in the back of my mind for a few years. I had settled on shooting it digitally, as that was really the only route open to me at that point. I had even got the large format printer that I required and I was literally in the final planning stages. Now that has all changed, film is the perfect way for me to shoot this project. I had thought about it at the start but with so many hurdles to overcome I decided that it wasn’t going to happen.
The fact that these things all coincided, well I couldn’t ignore the fact someone was trying to tell me something, I just needed to get my head around it!
So now the last piece of the puzzle, I needed a film camera. Throughout my professional carrier I have shot with many cameras, Canon, Nikon, Mamiya, Contax, to name a few, but I have always returned to the moon cameras. They have always had a special something about them and I could never put my finger on it. Thinking about it now, as a kid I was always fascinated with the NASA space missions and all those incredible space pictures shot on Hasselblads. Maybe it’s the beautiful handcrafted build quality or those fantastic Carl Zeiss lenses. Yep still can’t put my finger on it!
Anyhow, I’m now fully equipped with a darkroom, Hasselblads and lenses. My bank account is now several thousand £££ lighter but I can now start my project. More on this to follow but it is likely to be a life long endeavor.