Life on Film

Country Kitchen Breakfast

I was helping my Nana move out of her apartment that she’d been living in for decades. The living room, kitchen and bedroom were boxed up and ready to go. We were working on clearing out the dining room and hallway closets when I found an old Nikon camera buried in a box of forgotten household items.

The camera was black, compact, rectangular and still had a really nice wrist wrap attached to the side of it. On the front It read Nikon one touch-100. There was a switch that opened the hood and revealed the lens when flicked to the left. I looked through the viewfinder and pressed the shutter button on the top right.

*snap*

My nana told me she didn’t remember having it and didn’t know if there was film in it or not.

It turned out there was, but the lab returned a light-leak slip notifying us that they couldn’t recover any of the photos.

I went to CVS, bought a three pack of Fujifilm Superia 400, and hoped for the best.

Alas the camera worked well and the images weren’t half bad. They weren’t as visually beautiful as the inspiration on my Instagram feed, but they reminded me of going through the family chest , sorting through loose 4×5’s and telling stories of days gone by.

I loved it.

I didn’t care so much about the image quality as I did the process. Using the point-and-shoot as a secondary camera would sometimes take a few weeks to shoot an entire roll and by the time I was ready to turn it in I had already forgotten what I’d taken pictures of.

Not seeing the photos for an extended period of time , the anticipation alone kept me interested.

I never reviewed or changed settings and I didn’t care if I shot in landscape or portrait mode. I wasn’t trying to “optimize” for Instagram. None of that mattered. It was spontaneous, in-the-moment, point-and-shoot.

About a year ago I bought my first SLR and relearned the basics of photography which in turn completely changed how I used my digital camera. Admittedly, I really didn’t know what I was doing with ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. I was looking at the LCD and if It looked good on screen I took the picture.

Relearning the basics forced me to confront my prior knowledge, experience, and any bad habits I picked up along the way.

Film photography helped me understand my tools and by doing so, become a better photographer. It taught me that I didn’t have to spend thousands of dollars on a new camera to make meaningful images. Process is everything.

Megapixels don’t matter.
Which brand you shoot with doesn’t matter.
How much money you spend doesn’t matter.

Once you know your camera and understand the exposure trifecta,

process is all that matters.