A year ago, the idea of shooting film was just a dream. A smooth, silky, creamy bokeh dream. It was the fear of starting over again (I had already relaunched wedding photography business in Hawaii!) seemed like an incredibly daunting task. But the love for film overcame me, and instead of buying a shiny new digital camera, I invested in my favorite medium format film body instead. The day I held my new-to-me Contax 645 in my hands was like the heavens opened up and gently placed the holy grail into my cupped palms. "I love it! I love it! I really really love it! But how do I use it?". Here I was once again, hell bent on starting something else over I suppose. The months leading up to my purchase had yielded some, not many, advances in my Ghetto Style Film Education. I had searched forums, read books, even took tons and tons of notes. But none of it meant anything to me if I didn't put it to use and connect the dots. So, I took a leap, rented a light meter, put in a roll of $8 Portra, and took my fancy new camera around town. Only problem was, I couldn't figure out how to see out of the damn view finder (aka prism). I mean, really. HOW DO I SEE OUT OF THIS THING? 20 minutes later, my friend still perfectly posed for his close-up and a million flicks of switches later, I found out the camera was not in fact not broken like I had just cussed (whew!) but the viewfinder just needed to be opened. *Cue minion style 'Ooooooooo'*. My quest to learn and shoot film continued on like this: something happening/seeming to break/not work--me, stumped for long periods of time--even MORE stumped on what to google--getting answers back in forums that were further over my head than Pluto. Wait. They did away with Pluto you say?? Who the heck made THAT decision?!?!? In attempts to learn from my knowledgable peers, I joined groups to get right in the action. Ask questions in live time. Unfortunately nothing sucks more than having your questions met only by the sound of crickets off in the distance, leaving you googling everyone else's comments like "how to meter for shadows". What is "rate at box speed?". "How to know if you screwed up a roll of film". Soon enough I began to teach myself. Through a massive series of trial and error, I enrolled myself in a Master Course taught by yours truly, majoring in tested light scenarios, shooting different subjects, and that old school word--bracketing. I tried different labs, documented my settings, and googled every word until my eyeballs fell out. I spent countless hours searching the web for breakdowns that were easy to understand and even more dollars in film costs trying to connect the dots. Many a nights I wished there was someone who, like me, was just starting off and learning the way I was. Someone I could ask my seemingly silly "what's considered a full stop" questions that I dare not breath in online forums to, and we could share + grow together. After speaking to other film shooter friends outside the state, I realized I was not the only one feeling left in the dark and afraid to let out a peep in any of the highly glamorized and real dern good film groups. There were other photographers out there who loved film, wanted to explore more, give it a try or get back into it and were desperate for a fun, positive and comfortable space to get the most basic of questions explained.
Once we learn a subject, we replace our once miniscual of questions with plethoras of knowledge--so much in fact that's it's easy to forget what it's like to be at square one. It's like riding a bike, to us who have learned, well it's easy! You just put your feet on the pedals and goooooo! But we have to put ourselves in the shoes of the beginner to truly help one another grow. Remember what it's like to feel out of balance. Recall the fear of falling. And remind ourselves that like loading that first roll of film, not everyone has pulled on a handlebar break before.
That's why I decided to launch this Facebook group: the Film Collective. A place for beginner film shooters to ask questions, get answers, and help one another grow--collectively. I am still learning, always will be, but am thankfully over the scary hump of getting to know the basics--but not so far that I don't remember what it's like to know even know what to google to ask my question. I'm not at the stage of geeking out over cross processing lab chemicals or the currently most popular Pentax (I mean, I seriously doubt I'll ever love some chemicals. I'll always pay someone for that) but I have stored countless resources throughout the time of trial and error and along with the community would love to share advice on how to simply pick up a camera and get started. Simple, easy explanations to the silliest of questions (they are encouraged!!). Because, as the dreaded advice rings true, it really just comes with practice, you must first learn the basics--and it's not NEARLY as hard as you'd think. Trust me!
So, if you're down to start shooting film or want to pick back up an old love, we'd love to have you collaborate--come join the group + get involved. The more, the better--more knowledge to go around! Please just remember, the group is for beginners, so as all film shooters are welcome, please keep any and all explanations and jargon and geeking out to a bare minimum. ;) This is for straight up starters, so it's best to assume everyone knows nothing (even if they know something about shooting film) NO explanations like "Meter for the Shadows" and "Rate at Box Speed". Those were the things I was constantly left googling. Instead, break it down and explain howwwwww to do that.
Can't wait to explore the fine art of film TOGETHER! See ya over there!
The funnest little camera in the world, fuji instax, shot on Contax 645 + fuji 400h | Richard Photo Lab