2018 Was A Great Year For Film Photography For Me

It’s here. 2019. Twenty. Nineteen.  It just doesn’t seem possible. I’ll turn 49 years old this year. And as I’m peeking over the edge of my first fifty years of existence, there are going to be some first time experiences for me...and I’m excited as hell about it.  

First things first. I have some goals from 2018 that didn’t quite come to fruition. Don’t get me wrong. It was a great year, but there were some goals that I had set for myself that I never totally achieved. But before we discuss those, I want to talk about some of the good things that happened.

2018 was the year I dove head first into film photography. I’ve shot film in the past, but never at this magnitude. I shot more film in 2018 than I ever had in any other decade, much less any other year. 

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2018 was also the year I attended the Film Photography Project Walking Workshop in Findlay Ohio. In addition to the awesome folks at FPP, I also met some really cool fellow film shooters, some of which I still talk to on a regular basis.

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I hosted my first photo walks in 2018. There were two. Some of the attendees were people I met in Findlay. Others were either friends of theirs, or had seen photos from the first photo walk and wanted to be a part of the second one. Much film was shot and great friends were made. The communal aspect of film photography is one of the things I love about being a part of this culture. There’s just nothing else like it.

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I also made my first darkroom prints in 2018. I took a black and white darkroom class at my local community college, where I met some great people and definitely grew as a photographer. I loved that time in the darkroom creating images that can never be duplicated. It was a magical experience.

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And last but definitely not least, I launched this blog. I haven’t given it nearly enough attention, but that’s one of my goals for 2019. I really hope to post at least once a month. I quite possibly pick up a film camera every single day. Surely I have enough material related to film photography that I could share, whether it’s new developments, a new camera, or something stupid I did that’s funny enough to share in a way that I can hopefully prevent someone from making the same silly mistake.

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Case in point.  I did something so stupid that I can’t help but tell people about, even if it’s just so I can tell them that no mistake they may make can be any worse than what I did. Let’s go back to Findlay Ohio, August 2018  I’m on a photowalk with other films photographers, snapping away like crazy. I knew we were going to be out shooting for a while, so I was sure to bring extra film. I’m paying attention to the frame count on my Minolta X-370, and notice I’m at 34 frames. I snap off another picture. Click, wind. I see another shot. I compose the image and shoot. Click, wind. This should be my last shot. Click, wind. Ooh!  Extra frames!  Everyone loves extra frames!  Click, wind. There’s no tension on the wind lever. Click, wind?  Two extra frames??  Really??? Click, wind. Click, wind. Click, wind. Still no tension. I think you’ve probably figured out where this is going. I had certainly figured it out by this time, but alas, it was too late. I gave it one more “click, wind” just for confirmation. Only this time, I did something I should have been doing all along. I watched for the rewind knob to turn. Only it didn’t. You see, the X-370 is a manual camera. It won’t wind the film for you. It doesn’t have a fancy beep to tell you something is wrong. It’s so simple, in fact, that it doesn’t even have a little window in the back to let you know there’s film in the camera. But somehow, while standing shoulder to shoulder in a group of film photographers, I didn’t need that little window to confirm what I had just figured out; that there wasn’t going to be anything behind the door when I opened the camera. I had been walking around the better part of the afternoon shooting blanks. This is where you laugh. Hysterically. Because that’s what I did. It’s all I COULD do.  Laugh, I did. Then I quietly loaded the camera, watching for the film rewind knob to turn before carrying on with the group.  It was months before I told any of them, but it’s a story I now share regularly. 

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Goals from 2018 that I hope to improve upon this year?  Write more, and do less stupid stuff ( like forgetting to load my camera).  I think we can do tgat  

So. Back to 2019. What does this year have on the agenda?  There are going to be some firsts. 

I will shoot large format photography this year for the first time. I purchased a Crown Graphic 4x5 camera last year, but never shot it. That baby is going to see some action this year. It’s far too pretty of a camera to be a shelf queen. 

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I’m also building a 4x5 rail camera this year. I start another film photography class in less than a week, where we will be using the same type of equipment. I figured I might as well get one of my own so that I can fully immerse myself into it. 

The previously mentioned class is going to revolve around studio photography, another first for me. I don’t mind taking photos of people, but I’ve never considered myself a portrait photographer, nor did I ever think I’d be interested in becoming one. But there’s just something amazing about portraits taken on large format film. They have a special look to them. A look I seem to have fallen in love with. I want to learn to achieve that look. Hopefully, 2019 is my start down that path. 

And last but certainly not least, 2019 will be the first year that I’ll take part in a year long group photography project. I’ll discuss the details and possibly some photos in my next post, but what I will say about it is that it’s a monthly obligation to shoot the same kind of film in the same camera. That’s 12 rolls for the year, all in the same camera. Should be fun!

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So, what’s on your agenda for 2019?  A new camera?  A new format of film?  Maybe even a new shooting style?  One thing is for sure..  It’s your year.  It’s your opportunity to try something new and different. Or, you could just do what you did last year. But where’s the fun in that?!?!  Now, get out there and shoot!!