As part of writing Enchanting Analogue, the film shooting course I’ve created with Lauren Keim, I have given a lot of thought to how film is kinder with our mistakes and how it throws us some magical surprises to encourage us and help us along our journey. This lesson is an extract from the course. You can find out more about Enchanting Analogue here.
Learning to embrace mistakes
Making mistakes and experimenting is part of any creative journey. I’ve had my fair share of disappointments with shooting film, and will absolutely continue to do so. Often my shots have not appeared as I was hoping they would. I’ve had countless images that are blurry, ones where I’ve focused on the wrong subject, or seemingly not focused anywhere at all. And then there are the badly-framed ones, and those that are too far over- or under-exposed.
On top of these setbacks there are the ones that I knew I’d messed up at the time. More than once I’ve opened up the back of my camera before rewinding my film, and on my first ever roll I forgot to depress the release button and ripped the strip out of the camera. I’ll never know whether my first photos would have turned out alright or not.
But the amazing thing about film is that sometimes these maddening mistakes become magical surprises. Light leaking into your camera creates an ethereal quality, like a message from the heavens above. A focus on the wrong subject offers glimpse into a scene that as a viewer you tantalisingly can’t quite access. Accidental double exposures feel like some kind of sorcery. Under-exposure creates soporific depth and over-exposure gives images a pleasing vintage feel.
When your camera nurtures your creative spirit
Sometimes, just when you need it, just when you are feeling despondent and frustrated, your camera sends you a wild card. It gives you a little bump to encourage you on your way. Lens flares, flashes of sunlight and hazy glows turn unremarkable images into something special and the occasional ‘first of the roll’ feels like an unexpected bonus.
It’s blurry, but I love it.
Shooting film has taught me that not all images are for sharing. This, along with having to wait to see my images, is what has helped me break my addiction to the immediacy of Instagram. The more I shoot film, the more I understand the iron grasp platforms such as Instagram have on dictating what images are deemed acceptable or not. What matters, I’ve realised, is not whether a photograph will be ‘liked’ by others, but whether the image conveys an emotion to me, or allows me relive a precious memory.
I have plenty of blurry images where the subject (often my dog Edward) is moving, or the low light levels of a British winter make a sufficiently fast shutter speed impossible. These images are blurred, yes, but there is something about film that makes these images as meaningful and atmospheric as the sharper ones. These imperfect captures may not be for sharing, but that doesn’t dilute the power they have to transport me back to a time and place made special in my memory.
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If you are looking for a new creative adventure for 2020, you might like my e-course, Enchanting Analogue.
A unique course to teach you to how to shoot on film. Suitable for both complete beginners and experienced photographers, you’ll discover how easy it is to create incredible photographs when you leave the digital world behind.
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