My Love for Film

5 min read by Amy Paterson. Published in Essays, Stories.

Family photo albums. I’m pretty certain this is where my love of film began.

As I take notes for this article I leaf through albums and old family photographs. My parents were constantly taking pictures and making books out of them. I love this tangible aspect of photography.

My sister and I would often pull out our baby albums that our mum put together, with black and white photos taken by dad, cards and snippets of wrapping paper. You can tell she really took her time over them.

Many of our albums were handmade, filled with photographs from our childhood before we were even around. My sister and I love the old ones of our parents especially; seeing them grow — children into young adults. The colours and the ambience of these books at once evoke sensations of nostalgia.

L-R My mum on her first day of school / my mum / my mum with her brother and sister-in-law / my mum with her mum and brother.

Below is a lovely little album that my Opa made up of a trip to Arran in October 1987. It’s like a mini zine. The layout and his craftsmanship on the cover in a form of a beautifully painted title speak of his past as an artist. Hopefully, I can do the same for our family too.

L-R My Oma / me / my Mum / my Opa

A handmade book by a friend of my mum’s who gifted it to my parents on their wedding day in 1982. Filled with black and white photographs of their house and the area they lived in. I love everything about it. A tangible photo essay.

I love how old photographs look and feel when pieced together into harmonious, beautiful photo books. I also enjoy the slow process of taking film photographs in today’s world of instant gratification.

Slowing down, taking in, engaging with the surroundings and the subject. The thrill of finding the shot and being in a moment of complete concentration, to make it right as there are no delete or preview buttons on film cameras. Finally, the anticipation of seeing the images coming back from the lab for the first time. Having forgotten some of the shots, the surprise, pleasant or not, of reliving that moment, again.

The feeling of shooting film for the first time is like having a baby. You could try to describe the instant love for that tiny being, but you can’t. It’s something one has to experience to truly understand.

It’s incredible. And it never goes away.