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Film Photography + The Joy of Surprises

Film Photography + The Joy of Surprises

tropical film photography

Thirteen was a big year for me: I was an awkward seventh grader with braces, a crew of annoyingly peppy best friends, and just enough newly found freedom to start dramatic fights with my mom at every opportunity. I’d had my first kiss, gone to my first real concert, and was regularly getting dropped off at the movies or the mall sans grown-up. It was also the first year I got an adult birthday present.

I’d been forced, dragged kicking and screaming, into getting Bat mitzvahed, and had hated every single second of it. As a reward and birthday gift, I was lucky to get the second item on my wish list—a Nikon N65 film camera and a set of my late grandfather’s Nikon lenses.

I was easily addicted and went through rolls of film every week. I’d shoot my friends when we hung out, school basketball games and family vacations. Each of our pets was forced to model for me. That winter, our patient dog spent hours posing in front of various neighborhood objects covered in snow. I played with all the settings on my camera, read books on photography and raged that I wasn’t old enough to take photography classes at our local community college.

Sometime in high school I switched to digital just like everybody else, and never looked back. I took digital and film photography classes in high school and college, but hadn’t shot film in nearly 10 years until recently. I dug my old Nikon out, cringed when I looked-up the current price (you can get one on Ebay for $15), ordered a new battery and some film, and started shooting. I challenged myself to shoot on manual. I paid attention to framing, light, pattern, repetition and leading lines—just like I’d been taught. I started bringing my camera places, toting it around on trips and asking strangers to snap pics of my group of friends.

I’d been uninspired with the digital world, unhappy with social media, and bored with digital photography, but shooting film brought me back to life. The first time I got to download scans I was overcome with joy. Who knew waiting for something could be so fun? (Yes, when I get my film developed I have it scanned instead of getting prints. If there are good shots I’ll get them printed, but nothing beats sending fresh scans out to friends and family.)

I’ve been shooting both black + white and color, but I’m obsessed with the texture and tones in my color shots. I’ve taken some beautiful portraits and landscape shots that capture not only a pretty person or place, but also the mood, atmosphere and general feel of the moment. No Photoshop, no instant gratification, just a moment frozen in time.

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