I didn’t fully understand it when seasoned and beginner film photographers said film allowed them to slow down, I just accepted it as apparent. One afternoon in May, I took out Lomography’s Simple Use Reloadable Film Camera loaded with the LomoChrome Purple. It’s been more than a month since then and I’ve only had the film developed recently.
Looking at these photos I took nonchalantly in that afternoon when life was a little bit different than it is today, I have to say that I’m starting to learn what those other photographers meant, as well as what film photography means to me.
I have a confession to make. As someone who truly appreciates seeing other people’s photos, I feel a tiny bit of shyness and even insecurity about sharing my own. I noticed that even though I’m a pretty spontaneous person and take photos candidly, when I'm viewing the photos a few days or weeks afterwards I have a tendency to mull over angles and compositions I should’ve considered. Sometimes I ask myself why I even took a photo of something. It's so random!
I bought an SLR (a Minolta SR-1) when I started with film photography because I thought the best way for me to learn was to learn something at its core. Not to mention that ever since I can remember, I’ve always had a penchant for nostalgia.
There’s something fascinating about looking back and retracing the depth in certain things. Old photos, memorabilia, heirlooms in flea markets, songs from an era when one wasn’t even born yet; they all have stories to tell, and people who have stories to tell owned them or made them.
In the same vein, I think film photography for me is starting to mean some sort of meditation. This moment exists and I exist in it, and if there’s a version of myself in the future that I want to remind about it, what would she like to see or learn?
This 22.7-hectare park in Quezon City, Philippines has always felt mysterious for me, and I liked walking in nature for the magical and dreamy feeling it brings. I think the LomoChrome Purple’s color shift painted those sentiments perfectly. Bringing the handy Simple Use Camera meant I could take it easy, enjoy my walk and only take photos of the things that matter to me. It's also a way of learning photography at its core, isn't it?
I took a photo of a tree cut down because for a park that helps clean the air in the country’s most populated city, I thought that there’s a sadness to it that I couldn't disregard. I took a photo of a little building that, three years ago and before the pandemic, I spent an afternoon painting in watercolor. Bougainvillea has always been my favorite flower, and my eyes always gravitate towards them wherever I see them. I love how majestic they look even in their decay.
Seeing the colors of a place close to my heart in this light also made it more mysterious, and a little bit like a forgotten sanctuary. Would a turn lead to a mushroom path, and into one of Mad Hatter’s tea parties?
This makes me think about photos that other people have taken, too. Although I create my own stories about those places in my head and see them from my own perspective, I wonder what it's like in the morning, afternoon or evening when the photos were taken. Did the photographer get a snack afterwards? What did they think of the photos they had taken? Was it their first, or last time to be in that place?
Although I took these photos myself, the change in colors made the place look so ethereal and even a bit unrecognizable that I felt like I was peering into another person's world. (It reminds me of a quote from Jonathan Safran Foer's novel Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, “Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I'm not living.”)
I definitely would love to try the LomoChrome Purple again, and the next time make sure to get a little closer to my subjects, capture a few human actions maybe, and include more objects to truly see how the film stock would change other colors. Since I’m pretty much drawn to quiet surroundings with minimal activities, I think I’d like to try some microphotography or pursue "random" compositions to my heart's content. No one was really stopping me aside from myself.
I think that while I pay more attention to the technicalities in order to take better photos and satisfy the serious and sometimes self-critical side of myself, it doesn't hurt to allow another side of myself to spend a few minutes staring at wildflowers, get enchanted by trails that are off-limits, and look for the shady, quiet area everywhere to contemplate life.
The two sides can co-exist, and the beauty of film photography for me is in its ability to create that space where they're able to.
Do you have similar experiences? What does film photography mean for you? Share your thoughts with us below, we'd love to read them!