In late 2018, I decided to try out film photography for the third time. The past two times weren't terrible experiences but broken cameras and unsatisfied rolls discouraged me from continuing. It was only when I was looking for a new creative outlet due to both a breakup and struggling creatively in music that I purchased a (now dead) Olympus Mju 105 Zoom. Having only shot in a city environment, My trip to San Juan, La Union with some of my friends was a perfect opportunity to try out a different surrounding for photography. Looking back at this trip after three years, I take a look at what my friends and I have learned from shooting that trip almost entirely on film.
San Juan, La Union is located on the western side of Luzon, one of the three main island groups of the Philippines. It is known as being one of the most popular surf spots in the Philippines and is a few hours away from the capital of Manila. Besides surfing San Juan has started to foster a growing community in the past decades with many creatives such as musicians, designers, photographers and videographers having moved there. It also has one of the best coffee shops in the country called El Union which is one of the original establishments to open in the area. More establishments have been springing up such as unique food concepts, inexpensive hostels, dependable co-working spaces, and even a world-class music studio.
@dimside was shooting for more than two years before this trip happened. He mostly would focus on street photography, shooting "whatever he can see and experimenting with it." He used an Olympus Trip AF S2 and Fujifilm Fujicolor C200 to shoot our trip.
"I guess I learned to bring the right gear / not overpack because I just wanted to chill so I just brought a point-and-shoot. Basically, capture the moment as is and not focus too much on composition and stuff."
@nikkijpg and I have been friends since 2017 and I remember her being one of the people I'd see in school with a film camera. She still uses her Yashica T3 today. During our trip, she was three years into shooting film and wanted to use film as a creative medium to capture memories.
"On trips like these where a lot is going on and it's exciting to be with friends, it's tempting to shoot everything on iPhone so I can instantly share it on social media. But shooting on film felt a lot better. I got to savor the present moment and not take too many photos because, of course, film rolls have a limit. This resulted in me trying to compose my pictures more thoughtfully and beautifully. At the end of the trip, I was happier with my film pictures (more than the ones on my phone) and believe they captured the warmth and beauty of our friendship and environment."
@reesevision tried her hand at film photography around six months before this trip. She had an Olympus Mju II as her main camera. She started taking photos as a way for her to keep track of important things and people in her life. She was using Lomography Color Negative ISO 400 for this trip as this was her go-to film during the start of her film journey.
I had a lot of fun meeting new people during this trip...didn't think I'd continue to stay in touch even after three years of meeting these people. I think being in a group setup gives you the advantage to play around with different members of the group. We were always up to something so it felt a bit fast-paced to me. Luckily, I had always brought my camera with me. This trip was refreshing in terms of photography as I seldom am around a barkada (group of friends) set up so to shoot them was a new experience for me.
I think one of the highlights of this trip for me was shooting not in Manila. My past film rolls were all related to my everyday life such as school, nightlife, and gigs. Shooting in the beach was much slower since most of your subjects would be landscapes and the environment. With the city, I would just keep shooting without thinking but going to waterfalls and seeing mountains and beaches made me try to compose my images much better. I was really happy with how my rolls turned out and it made me want to go back to the beach and capture more moments with friends and with nature.
Do you have any stories that reignited your drive to shoot film? Comment down below or share your story with me at @rocket_fries0036.