Over the past 18 months, I have been blogging and going through all my film photography work from 2010 till now. Mostly all the photos I have taken and used in the blog have been with my Mamiya 7. But when I first started shooting film, it was 35mm format that I shot. So this blog post is going to take it all the way back to the very beginning and the first couple of years before I made my way into medium format film.
Rewind back to 2010 and I was living in Canada. At that stage I had just been using a small Canon digital point and shoot which I enjoyed due to its compact size and decent quality images but was looking for a change and to really delve into photography. I then discovered Joel Birch's (of The Amity Affliction) 35mm photography work. I was so impressed by the results and look he was getting plus that I decided I wanted to get a similar camera (he was shooting with an old Minolta 35mm camera). I also wanted to learn the basics of photography from the ground up after coming from a digital background with no notion of what ISO, shutter speed and aperture really meant.
After arriving back in Australia a few months later, I was fortunate to get my hands on two Pentax SLR’s from an old guy who lived in the same town at my parents and had completely upgraded to digital. So with my two new cameras in tow and some expired slide film, I started my film journey. It was very much trial and error in the beginning, especially with the mixed results with expired film and using multiple cameras. But you can’t expect perfection straight away (and I definitely had my times of frustration haha) but slowly and surely, my photos started to improve. I was shooting lots of stuff close to where I was living with a mixture of Kodak and Fuji film stocks and using a small one hour lab in Brisbane, Queensland. Unfortunately the lab closed down within six months and I was left with the dilemma of working out where I could send my film to for development and scanning. Then along came Jonathan Canlas.
Jonathan Canlas is an American film photographer now based in Hawaii but was then living in Utah. I can't remember how I came across him but his photos mesmerised me with a very unique to it. I remember looking at his photos and thinking how it was possible to get such results while shooting film and how none of mine looked even remotely that good. But it was his helpful and educational pdfs that really taught some important lessons. It opened my eyes to new techniques about shooting film, various film cameras and equipment and most importantly using a good film lab.
Back then before he had started his own lab, The Film Lab, he was using Richard Photo Lab. He basically gave the ins and outs about the lab and why they were so good. So once I had finished a few more rolls, I decided to roll the dice and send some film to them to see how they turned out. And boy was I impressed. It’s definitely important for the photographer to take a photo that is compositionally impressive with the right settings but there is just as much importance in the film development process. In the end, the scanning process is one of the most crucial stages and getting that right goes a long way to making sure a photo looks amazing. So once I got that first delivery of scans, I was amazed. My photos looked a million times better then the shitty one hour lab and really gave me confidence in wanting to photograph more and improve. For more than five years Richard Photo Lab was my lab of choice and I was never disappointed in their results. I've only just started using Indie Film Lab for my past two orders and am currently waiting for the scans for one of those orders (images coming to the blog soon!).
So once I started using RPL, my photography dramatically improved. I was inspired to shoot more and I started to develop more of a look and feel to my work. Over a number of years I photographed a whole bunch of different things and learnt so much about using a camera and photography in general. So it’s great to go back and look at where I started and the path of my film photography career. I put below some of my favourite photos that I took during that time.