Back in 2012, during my time studying Art and Design techniques in College, I had become quite fond of the idea of using cameras for a project I was working on, and had decided that I was going to take up photography in college full-time. After the completion of my project, I had been exposed to the idea of using cameras as primary creative output, and from this moment onwards, I really started to get used to the idea of taking photographs. First I became quite comfortable with using DSLR cameras, but my newfound interest soon spiralled into much more of a passion for photography which in turn led me to discover the joys of film photography.
For this blog post, I thought it would be interesting to look back at some of the film photos I took during my time at college. Unfortunately, with it being the best part of a decade ago, I can’t remember which camera I used. However, I thought it might be fun to look back into the artistic mind of a 17-year-old Sam Hardwick, starting with my first ever roll of 35mm film.
My college tutor had given me a task to go out and shoot a full roll of black & white film. The idea was to see how well I would get used to an analog camera with the promise that I’d be shown how to develop the images afterward. All I can say is that I was terrible at the developing part! As you can see below through the accidental chemical spillages and scratches that accidentally became part of the final images, initially it did not come naturally to me!
A couple of weeks later I was starting to get the hang of using analog cameras, so took some new found ideas back out into the field. For these photographs I’d decided that wanted shoot in the dark using only the light from streetlights and shops. The idea was to attempt to create interesting black & white silhouettes and tones in the shadows. I do think this experimentation resulted in some interesting images, and perhaps represents the early stages of me finding a black and white style of shooting.
Continuing on from this, I decided to spend some time working on a national competition held by Fujifilm. Each year Fujifilm would hold a competition for photography students from across the world to shoot on one roll of Fujifilm Acros 100. The competition was based on a theme and would require the student to think outside of the box and be creative with the chosen theme. From what I can remember, the year’s theme was ‘Reflections’.
By this time, I had started to build a reputation in my college class as the street photographer. I enjoyed this form of photography as it felt more natural to me as a photographer than other disciplines I had explored. I especially liked that I could capture honest and “decisive moments” through the lens of a camera which had started to feel really comfortable in my hand. Cameras were becoming a part of my maturing photography-personality.
I’m not sure that I had heard anything from Fujifilm – but I think I might have forgotten to enter my photographs into the competition anyway…
My next stage was to start focusing on incorporating colour into my photographs. I hadn’t really worked with colour film yet, but I felt that was up to the challenge. Working with colour film was a strange feeling for me. I found shooting colour film to be a completely different experience. Through shooting it, I realised that I had to consider the emotion of colours within elements in the image. I really felt right out of my comfort zone and found that my work was becoming less focused and was drifting away from the style I had found for myself. Instead it felt slightly more like I was taking snapshots, or at best a photojournalist style images.
In 2015 I took five rolls of colour film with me to ‘Rock am Ring’, a music festival in Germany. Here are some of the results – perhaps you can see how I felt colour changed my style and approach?
While this is not the complete collection of photographs from my college years – there are plenty more stories I could tell – it does represent a look back at my early adventures into film photography. Overall, I remember finding analog cameras much more interesting and engaging to shoot with than using the digital cameras I had tried. I liked that I had to be more careful with my visual mindset, as I was limited to a certain amount of shots. This made me feel more on edge and cautious about what I was shooting as I didn’t want to waste film in the way I could waste shots with my digital cameras.
In fact, I think shooting film helped me loose that trigger happy mindset that I had picked up from using a DSLR camera. I simply don’t have the option to overshoot or delete images at a push of a button, and I think that made me a stronger photographer longer-term.
Around 2015 I started to move into the realm of learning how to shoot video and narrative films. I guess this was just the next step in my creative path. I moved from photography into filmmaking and for some reason this meant that I started to shoot less and less photographs. However, looking back through these photographs, I feel inspired to revisit the roots I have in still photography…
Maybe once this quarantine is over and the Coronavirus pandemic has calmed down, I will set about going out to shoot with an film camera again and see how the time I have spent making video and films has changed my eye…
Thanks for reading