The question of the importance of analogue photography on a personal level is a complex one. We all have our reasons in sticking with this so-called 'dying' medium and here's mine.
As far as the arts is concerned, I’m a late bloomer. All throughout high school and college, I never once fired a shot with a camera, digital or otherwise. My drawing skills were non-existent too. All I could draw were stick figures and anatomically-challenged farm animals. I was an irresponsible student who did what irresponsible students do best – get piss drunk. It was only after graduating from school and when I started working that I felt the gnawing hunger for a creative outlet.
In a purely serendipitous moment, I chanced upon a Lomography article online. The saturated colors, the mysterious vignettes, and the carefree, devil-may-care attitude thoroughly intrigued me. I posed the question that we’ve all asked ourselves in muffled tones: What the hell is Lomography?
And down the rabbit hole we go.
With that initial step, I was transported to a whole new world. I jumped in headfirst and devoured as much information as I could, but I was in an ocean without a paddle. I knew nothing about photography, f/stops, shutter speeds, ISOs, and everything else you can think of. I just assumed that if I pressed the shutter, I’ll get those those wonderfully artsy photos.
I was of course, horribly, horribly mistaken.
Slowly, painfully, roll after stubborn roll, I learned and got back up. I learned never to fire a Holga with ISO 100 film indoors. I learned that there are some exposures that you just can’t handhold, no matter how much you pride your self in your steady hands. I learned that when the rewind lever isn’t moving when you’re advancing your film, chances are it’s spooled incorrectly. I learned that fixed-focus cameras can’t take macro photos no matter crystal clear it looks like in the viewfinder. I learned all this, and I know for a fact that I’ve barely scratched the surface.
That, I feel, is the importance of analogue photography to me. It’s a brutal, ruthless, unforgiving teacher that’ll make you want to tear your hair out. I went from zero photographic knowledge to… well, someone with intermediate knowledge. I don’t have the gall to say that I’ve mastered the art of film photography. Learning is a never ending process. That blank roll that came back from the lab is of course, a tragedy. But it isn’t all for naught when you learn something from it. And like most teachers, you only get to appreciate them when you’re looking back. Hindsight is after all, 20/20.