Starting Out with Film Photography
I'm going to be honest, this has been one long post in the making.. Who knew a journey to play with film photography could have so many ups, downs and twists?! I guess the best place to begin is the beginning. A few years ago my Father-in-Law gave me an old 70's 35mm Pentax to play with! It was magical. I adored every time that shutter would open and shut and those little whirs and clicks at the end of roll. There was something so classic and beautiful about capturing moments on film. To say the least, I was hooked!
I spent the next few months scouring some of favorite film photographers, Elizabeth Messina and Jose Villa, and the gear they used while continuing to shoot on my little 35mm. Side note, this began a few years ago and I still had a local Walgreens that did scans in store so I was using them but of course they stopped and I knew with a better camera I should look for a better film lab. I came up with a plan to purchase a Canon EOS 1-V because I could use my canon lenses I already own with it. I saved up over a few months and finally purchased my very own pro-level 35mm film camera! I was ecstatic and nervous. It sat on the shelf as I watched episodes of how-to's and read the manual two times online. Yes, my dear friends I am a manual readers because why own something if you don't understand all that it can do!?
I purchased film, thank Amazon but if anyone knows a better way to purchase film stock I'm all ears, and went about shooting everything I could think of! Then that film sat on the shelf FOREVER. Why? Let's go back to that Walgreens side note. There is just something so daunting about packaging up film and shipping it out to a lab with an even bigger price tag + shipping + the post office with kids. Then fast forward and I am in Paris with my 35mm, even more film, and loving life! I was attending Abby Grace's Signature Atelier Workshop and one of my highlights was being able to use her Contax 645 medium format film camera! When I was researching film cameras I was stuck between medium format of a Contax, Pentax or a 35mm Canon 1V. I went the canon route because of my and lenses and I read a blog post that Jose Villa has it too.. Would you believe it, there was something EVEN MORE MAGICAL about medium format.
Learning to load that film, which I think is easier than the 35mm, and working that camera felt so good! So of course I left Paris with fresh dreams and still whole heck of a lot of unprocessed, shot on film. Holy moly those Contax 645 cameras cost such a pretty penny! I couldn't swallow it unless I was ready to implement film right at the moment into my wedding flows and cost that as an add-on to my brides. Guys, I'm not ready for that. Remember, I still haven't sent in all that film I took for fun because of the fear of shipping film, spending all that money, the scans coming back bad, plus the post office with a toddler. Side note, I found that going to Office Depot is a better option because they have carts and then my two year old feels like were at Publix and she might get a cookie. It definetly beats the constant running towards the door as I am trying to stay in line then laying on the floor of any kind at the Post Office. Let's get back to medium format camera prices, shall we?
The Contax used is looking $3000+ and I just could not justify that! So I researched the Pentax 645 and was wayyy happier with the price. I saved up and bit the bullet. The most precious package arrived I open it begin to watch how-to's and read the manual but hold the phone I purchased the wrong film backing! I purchased a 220 film holder which basically means more frames, more expensive film and more expensive processing fees! Let's go back to how I am not ready to implement film into my money making routine and do not wish to go so heavy. I reach out to internet groups and am informed you can do some tweaking but not wanting to mess with the 220 I found out I can do an exchange for a 120, thanks KEH! So now I have the body, the lens, and the right film back. Only thing, the film back will not click in to place! If I hadn't had perfect fitting 220 to begin with I may have been at way more of a loss. KEH was awesome though and did another exchange and this time it worked perfectly. I purchased more 120 medium format film and was ready for a trip to North Carolina with my little family and 5 rolls of 16 frames.
I enjoy the purpose and thought that comes with clicking the film shutter. That being said, I am so excited to have finally shipped my film to two different labs to see which scans, process and all around quality I like better. I can't wait to have those scans land in my inbox and share them with you, plus fingers crossed they're not a total bust! So with that long winded story about how I finally got around to owning too many film cameras for my britches, but have at least managed to send off test film. I am hoping to be able to announce the addition of film hybrid shooting to my current and future brides very soon!
Here are a few images from my old Pentax 35mm, scanned at Walgreens, taken in Savanah! I can't wait to get my new scans back to share with you!