So “Forever” film may not a perfect name since I haven’t been 100% faithful to film over the years. My first experience with film was back in high school – the Canon AE-1 had just come out and I was lucky enough to be able to use one the school had. I owned a variety of 35mm Canon SLR film bodies over the next 25 years – but never really moved passed the advanced amateur level.
In late 2001 I was able to get a second hand Canon D30 (all 3.25 megapixels) and moved into the digital world. Over the next 13 years I would move into professional photography, a fair amount of that time doing it as my full time employment, ranging in interests from commercial stock and eventually becoming a very successful wedding photojournalist.
I tried shying away from the resurgence film had been seeing since about 2007/2008 – but as I focused on my wedding photography I found myself spending more and more time looking for ways to get my digital files to look more like film, wether Tri-X B&W or Portra color. In all honesty to the casual observer I’d say most of the digital files looked pretty darn good.
As part of a workshop I dusted off some of my old film gear in early 20012, my old AE-1 and a Holga. On one hand the first few rolls from these two antiques sucked, on the other hand they felt more like “photography” than anything I’d shot in the last decade. It wasn’t long before that film camera collection of 2 grew to closer to 20 bodies. I had bodies for wedding work, bodies for play, bodies for action, bodies for story telling.
During most of 2013 and 2014 film probably accounted for about 1/3 of my wedding work as well, used it extensively for the family formals and couples portraits often falling back on the digital gear for those times when the range of ISO setting on the fly became so beneficial.
It was in 2014 that two things happened that would have a drastic impact on my photography. First – age and health, it was becoming harder to make it though an 8-10 hour wedding without being wracked with pain for the next week. So a day job I had gotten to make ends meet easier in the off season became my full time and only job as I shut down the photography business at the end of the wedding season.
The other impact of of the year was when my dog Porthos, who had developed diabetes that year lost his eyesight due to cataracts. While there was a surgical option, it wasn’t pocket change. Faced with the choice of heavy financial debt or parting with what where just “objects” the entire camera collection was sold. Fuji X bodies to Leica’s to Rolleiflex and all the others – all gone. All that was kept was the AE-1’s and their basic 50mm lenses and a Fuji X30 and S1 – two bridge point and shoots.
Into 2015 Porthos can see again and I’m in a spot to replace a piece of equipment or two. Thinking to keep it simple I got back to the Fuji X bodies. These are amazing cameras that I could use to shoot weddings, boudoir, street photography, just about anything with; but what I can’t do at this point is find any artistic inspiration in using them. They just don’t sing to me like they once did, so they went up for sale and a few medium format film bodies found their way back into my hands.
I’m back to just shooting film for my personal work – the bulk of which are on this blog. I still own those point and shoot digital cameras, but unless I’m selling something on eBay they don’t see much use. It’s film and film photography that speaks to me now, and it’s just not the look of film, but the way it feels to be shooting slowly and and with intent, sending the film off to the lab and the waiting to receive the scans back. The entire process is just different and at this point in my life that’s what I love about it.