The photo that persuaded me there was something good about film.
It was my first time with a film camera (at least since the early Nineties). I’d spent a whole night stuck in Munich Airport with my girlfriend, the Icelandic volcano having grounded most of Europe’s aircraft.
I was shooting with my new Diana Mini, taking photos of everything on every combination of setting I could think of. To be frank, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, but I was enjoying it. I expected they’d all come out perfectly (they didn’t, although the stairs photo is still a favourite of mine).
Anyway, we finally got home a day later than expected and arrived at a different airport than the one we expected to. My Dad played the hero that day and drove for about 3 hours to come and collect us from the airport and take us home. I got a shot of him as he was loading the car with our suitcases.
The next day we rushed into town to get the film developed. We eagerly waited, having a coffee to pass the time. The hour dragged by but eventually was up and the photos were ready. And yes, as you can see, most of them were blurred, or out of focus, or too dark or any combination of the three! At first I was disappointed but as I looked through them again I realised that this was something unique. I could never have done this with my cheap digital camera.
These photos were also a fitting evocation of our night in the airport, slightly drunk (there wasn’t much to do but walk around and drink) and eventually quite sleep-deprived and edgy. I’ll never remember every detail of that night and neither will the camera. It will only ever pick up moments from a whole night of moments.
And there, at the end of the film, the last print in the pack, he was there: Dad. The Hero.
Blurred, out of focus, over-exposed, but still, unmistakably Dad. He’s still with us, plenty of life in the old dog yet, but when he does go, this is exactly how I’ll remember him. Smiling and helping.