Hands On With Love / by Doctor Awkward

I can’t pinpoint the exact time I really dove into shooting film but I’m going to convince myself it was near the tail end of winter, sometime around March or April. I came across this instagram account NEVIIINX which only posted black and white photos which had a unique style I was attracted to. I noticed someone from one of the photos posted, so I sent him a DM asking about where he got his film developed since I had few rolls lying around. Fast forward through the exchange and he ends up inviting me to come develop my own film at the local darkroom! I was excited for this experience, but I was also nervous since I had never used a darkroom before.

Once our schedules synced up, I met him in the darkroom for some Developing 101. First, Nevin showed me the basic procedures to follow and the proper way to mix the chemicals. After the quick tutorial, it was time for me to hit the main stage and develop my first roll of film. I was hesitant because any slight fuck up could ruin my 36 shots, and all the hard work that went into taking those photographs would be erased. 

took a deep breath and went through the procedures that Nevin taught me (with the help of his guidance along the way). I got through the film developing process and the next moment was the moment of truth: “did I fuck up?”

I took the film out of the canister to find out that I did indeed fuck up. The majority of the roll was ruined because I wound the film on the spool too tight (swole people problems). Even though 28 of the 36 frames were ruined, I was still ecstatic because it was like magic seeing my roll of film come to life. As a rookie magician, I think I did pretty well preforming my first magic trick.

Shooting, processing, and printing film is the closest I’ve been to truly creating a product with my hands. Since I started shooting film, I’ve gained more respect for shooters before the digital era. You can’t just go out with your film camera spraying and praying. You have to take your time when you are shooting with film because rushing will only get you depressing rolls of film

For me, shooting film has taught me more about lighting and patience- taking your time to recognize (frame) or wait for an image. I’ve also researched street film photographers and went even deeper researching the photographers I was attracted to. Doing more research helped expose me to more shooting styles and learn the inspiration behind why people choose to shoot. If you are looking to become a better photographer, I challenge you to pick up a film camera and see how many good frames you can capture on a roll of film. Film photography is a challenge I’m enjoying, and I look forward to the pay off and joy it is bringing and will continue to bring.