Last year was my seventh year as a film photographer. I wrote the short essay below to mark the occasion.
While cleaning my room a few days ago, I stumbled upon a big bag of empty film canisters. Most of them, I figured, were from my restless, shutter-happy years. It instantly washed a wave of nostalgia over me, as I literally and figuratively unearthed a bag full of memories.
You see, I rediscovered film (I’m a 90’s kid who played around with film cameras during field trips, school events, and family gatherings) seven years ago, at a time when I was constantly searching for a creative outlet to complement my writing life. It was accidentally running into the trippy, super saturated world of Lomography that got me picking up a multi-coloured Holga 120 CFN, then a Nikon FE2. By the time I bought a Yashica Electro 35 GSN, I realized it was a slippery slope into analogue addiction.
The bag was dominated by cheap Kodak and Fuji colour negative films, which reminded me of the times I hoarded them by the hundreds with friends. They were only months to a few years expired and were good as fresh. It was one of the greatest feelings in the world, being able to shoot to your heart’s desire without worrying about running out. The downside, of course, was we (yes, I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way now) engaged in wasteful and careless shooting. But, that’s how we learn the biggest lessons anyway.
I dug through it and found some interesting ones. There were a couple of famous Kodak slide films like Elitechrome 100 and Kodak Ektachrome E100GX, which I bought without second thoughts whenever I had the chance. There were also some Fuji slide films like Provia 100F and Velvia 100F, which, along with the Kodak slides, reminded me of my cross-processing adventures; such travesty for E-6 advocates, I know! A couple of Fuji Neopan 400, and rare colour negatives like Fujicolor Press 800, Fuji Superia Reala 100, Kodak Portra 160, and DNP Centuria films made me feel that I enjoyed a great variety of films in those seven years.
Unearthing the canisters also made realize some other things. I miss the times when film was cheap and the selection was sizeable. Now, I’m finding it harder and harder to find good films here in Manila without making my wallet cry. I also found it interesting how each canister is like a piece of photographic history. Their iconic designs make them artworks in their own right.
Some say that there’s a tendency for us to lose interest in our relationships and romantic partners past the seven-year mark — a “phenomenon” called the seven-year itch. What about my seven years shooting film? While I’ve slowed down with the photowalks and photoshoots, the itch to shoot film hasn’t stopped and the need to scratch it won’t be over anytime soon.
You sure don’t take a trip down memory lane at the mere sight of your old memory cards, yes?