In this reader-submitted piece, Community member @vlajov recalls how his unexpected analogue journey started by meeting a new acquaintance at the heart of Sarajevo.
The time was spring of 2018. The place was Sarajevo, the city where I studied for three years. A city full of art and the Yugoslavian rock’n’roll capital city. Theaters located here and there and it's called European Jerusalem and reportedly a place where the 1st World War was ignited by assassination of the then Austro-Hungarian heir-prince. On the whole, it's the place where my senses for the beautiful, meaningful, characteristic, and my personal touch of creativity developed. But not in photography.
Not until one day when with my friends we decided to go on a hike to the nearby mountain and one of them said that her new roommate, a new ex-pat in Sarajevo, will join us. She came with her heavy, iron, memory-less, battery-less, and maybe with fewer features, but with one positive trait: it was using 35mm film. Luckily, I somehow controlled myself not to mock someone using a single-function device; and soon after I felt great about that.
The results of her struggle during the hike left me in awe. It made me difficult to convince myself that the photos I am looking at are, yes, from the technology that I used and saw probably some 20 years ago. The quaint appearance of the photos provoked me, riddled me. Their soulful look made me feel like I am soulless.
Not too long after that, I found my family’s old, forgotten, left-to-perish for all eternity Zenit ET with Helios 44-2 f2/58 mm. And then I asked her out for a film camera instruction date. It was a day full of exposures, apertures, focuses, ISOs, lens millimeters, shutter speeds, expired films, etc. and I ended up in total confusion. A mess that I was determined to solve.
Thanks to numerous dedicated websites and YouTube tutorials, 15-20 frames out of 36 successful exposures with the first couple of films, I started to navigate the film photography ocean with more confidence when I moved to Istanbul in the following summer and had met some local enthusiasts, exchanging info, knowledge, tricks, places, ideas, shops with a solid selection of films as well as expired ones.
It was almost impossible for me not to admire shooting historical buildings on film and people in the moment of their fullest concentration - the moment they’re dedicated to their work. It's always nice to see kids and their playful faces. The moment you point your camera at them and they immediately strike a pose and only to see their sweet despair when they realize I cannot show them the photo immediately.
One of my colleagues asked me why I use a film camera and not digital and I said: “I am addicted to the sound when I push the shutter!”, however strange it may sound. I like the realistic colors, unlike that of digital. I like engaging with the weather forecast, so I would choose the film respectively. I started to like the darkness of the night because I can grab a Fuji Superia 800 and “insert” light in it.
And now, two years after my first encounter with a film camera, I have two cameras: the aforementioned and Praktica L, equipped with two more lenses: Tokina/Vivitar f2.8/35 mm and AutoBeroflex f2/200 mm. I don't see myself stopping anytime soon because just a while ago I bought a Canon AE-1 so I can experience how the folks from the Far East crafted their cameras.
We would like to thank Vladimir Jovanovski (@vlajov) for sharing his story with us. How about you? Do you have film stories you wish to share with our Community? Comment down below so we can feature snippets from your analogue adventure! :)