One of my best friends, Julia, is an extraordinary photographer. She mainly operates on analogue (though she's also recently upped her Instagram game - check her out here) and after seeing zillions of her great photos I felt inspired enough to buy an analogue camera myself. I picked one up from Brooklyn Flea - a Japanese little thing from the 60's, heavy as a ton of bricks, but fairly cheap (I think) at $80. I finished my first roll of films within a couple of days, and this is part of the result.
And so what are my thoughts? Well, I'm not sure I'll be an as dedicated amateur photographer as Julia. I admire her in that she always makes the effort to bring her camera with her wherever she goes, but I just think it's a bit too heavy, and it's also slightly awkward to operate on analogue. Which in turn leads to a pretty interesting conversation as far as contemporary amateur photography goes, I think.
The iPhone 6s ad campaign "Shot on iPhone 6s" is quite frankly brilliant, and consists of user generated content only (it also won the category of best outdoor campaign in Cannes last year). It goes to show how everyone's a photographer these days, and it's fairly easy to take fairly good photos with little to no effort. The integration of mobile cameras into our everyday lives has meant that it's become natural for us to take photos of our food, our friends, ourselves, and everything in-between. It takes mere seconds to capture something visually appealing, and we do it so often that it's become near reflex-like.
That's not the case with analogue. There is nothing natural or instinctive about operating on an analogue camera. It takes at least a good 40 seconds to get a decent shot, and even then you're not sure whether you've achieved what you aimed for. And since it takes so long to get the light, focus and distance right, it's pretty tricky to capture moments of spontaneity. It makes things awkward.
For someone who's used to snapping away on their iPhone, taking more or less great photos, it's slightly frustrating. It also highlights the different purposes of photography, and how everyday photography on an iPhone - at least in my case - has become a natural way to document everyday life, whereas using a film camera has a different meaning and purpose altogether.
You don't turn to analogue because of the desire for instant results. And you certainly don't turn to analogue because you want to capture life in the moment and as it happens. You turn to analogue because photography is a skill you want to learn how to master. And you want the colours no iPhone in the world can give you.
There are similarities as well, of course. Some photos will turn out pretty shit (see below), just like they do on an iPhone. It's a bit more annoying perhaps, since you've had to pay to see your shit photos, but that's ok - it's part of the journey. Or at least that's what Julia's telling me.
The anticipation of developing a roll of film made me feel like a child on Christmas morning. I think I'll probably continue to take photos with my little Japanese camera every now and again, and it's quite likely something I'll continue to write about. As for high quality low quality photography, however, I'll probably keep referring you to Julia's work.