I started shooting exclusively in analogue approximately 5 years ago. At the beginning it was like entering a carousel full of expectations and experiences. I wanted to learn everything quickly and with quality. Of course it’s never like that! The curious story I will tell you here happened at that time in 2019/2020. I was so fascinated with analogue cameras that I wanted to try all of them in the world.
It was then that I was loaned a Petri 7s rangefinder, a novelty for me as I was just used to using an Olympus OM1. The camera belonged to a friend’s father, a history teacher, Carlos Alberto Pedroso Sanches, who used it in 70-80s while he was a journalist in Luanda and later when coming to Portugal to teach. I did a brief inspection of the camera, although I had no idea what I needed to see to confirm that it would be able to shoot. I immediately put a roll on it. I remember noticing the weight in my hands, trying to get used to the typical rangefinder way of focusing, the silence when shooting, in other words, everything is faster and simpler. I thought: ok, this is cool… even the light meter works. Flawless.
72 Photos taken at a glance around the city where I live, Lagos. I would return home satisfied like a child who has been playing in the playground.
I developed the rolls at home, with all the care and attention at the time, something I do nowadays with more ease. Practice leaves me distracted and that sometimes comes at a cost. And the conclusion of that revelation: failure… a complete let down when looking at the negatives. I didn’t see any images that were sharp, and they were all underexposed. I was so sad. Even so, I arranged that set of negatives in the dossier with the aim of reminding myself to be more careful in future experiences of this kind. And there they stayed for a year and a half or more.
In 2021, I don’t remember the reason, I was probably in the middle of another idea or some other experience, but I decided to scan one of those negatives. I edited the photo in LR and… Wow! I decided I had something there after all. I scanned the remaining negatives, which all needed similar adjustments, and I loved the set. As at the time I was reading a book whose story unfolded on a threshold between reality and something else, I immediately linked it. Books are an excellent way to encourage creativity.
In other words, after so much time I decided to go back to the Petri 7s, I loaded 1 more roll, using it in a more enlightened and intentional way. The objective was to explore the results of the incorrect functioning of the machine.
This experience was, I see it now, remarkable for me because, currently, what really excites me about analogue photography are all the unpredictable particularities, all the “errors”, all the characteristics that are registered in an image due to any random factor, which reveal in unique and unrepeatable results. I believe that using the currently available technology properly, it is possible to reproduce similar effects, that are similar or even prettier. However, this doesn’t inspire many of us in the same way, does it?
Nowadays, I still get a thrill when someone lends me an analogue machine that belonged to someone in the family, which allows the connection to an emotional story of some importance in people’s lives, and which has been in storage for many years. I still don’t want to know if they work correctly or not, I always use them in anticipation and in the question – what surprise will you give me? I assume the results and if I detect any malfunctions, so much the better. It is a kind of homage to the history that object has, and to the people who used it, because the importance is on the people, not on the object itself. At the same time, it allows me to take pictures that sometimes surprise me, which was the case with the Petri 7s.
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