5 Frames with a Canon EOS Rebel XS and Kodak Ultramax – By Simone Kuo

My father teases me that I’m a bit of an old soul even though I’m only 16. I like shopping at thrift stores, collecting vinyl records, and now taking photos on film. My fascination began the summer of 2019 when I bought a disposable Fujifilm camera at my local drugstore. I carried the pocket-sized camera everywhere, taking pictures constantly. Very quickly I ran out of shots, so I dropped off the camera for processing and waited impatiently for weeks. When I got the pictures back, I was hooked.

Knowing my father to be a serious camera enthusiast, I inquired about getting a “real” film camera of my own. It just so happened my mother had her old Canon EOS Rebel Xs sitting in her closet gathering dust. One Saturday morning my father taught me how to load film and adjust the controls. I carried my camera everywhere for the next couple weeks determined to get the right images and not waste shots as I did with the disposable camera.

During the President’s Day weekend my friends and I decided to have some fun with the camera and set out on an adventure to Amoeba records in Hollywood. The first photo is of my friend Rowan in the backseat when we stopped at a gas station. I was playing around with the camera and caught him off guard. The second photo is my friend Mckenna braving the I-10 freeway on our way to our destination. The third is me taking a cliché selfie.

After shopping we decided to visit a popular hiking trail on our way back home. The final two photos were taken at sundown during the last fleeting moments of daylight. We were all shivering and unaccustomed to the cold weather that set in.

Weeks later, when I got the CD back and saw the photos for the first time, I was thrilled. It was my first time shooting on a real film camera. They were grainy and textured and reminded me of something I could find in one of my mom’s old scrapbooks. People my age use artificial filters on their iPhone photos to get that effect, so I was proud that my images were authentic. I shared them with my friends, and they loved them – so much so that they asked their parents for film cameras too. All in all, using this camera was a fun experience; it made me think of photography in a whole new way.

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32 thoughts on “5 Frames with a Canon EOS Rebel XS and Kodak Ultramax – By Simone Kuo”

  1. Great shots and welcome to the hobby! If you have any questions be sure to ask, there are loads of friendly film photographers who are willing to help. Check out some of the podcasts too: Sunny16, Negative Positives. Plenty of others too.

  2. I really like seeing so many younger people taking up film photography. Being mid 20s myself I havent really experienced the heyday of film either. Just like you I haven’t been shooting for a while yet, so seeing more people pick it up gives me more hope about film once again becoming more relevant (a trend that has of course been going for a while already)
    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Simone! What a wonderful new adventure for you. My son is a cinematographer and also a photographer. He shoots film also but on a Mamiya. He has recently learned to develop his own film because of the Covid-19 stay at home orders. Check out his IG account @coreycwaters.

  4. Awesome shots! you’ve got a great handle on the exposures. Come check out the Negative Positives Film Facebook group and podcast! A great bunch of folks over there.

  5. I’m proud to say that I got my daughter involved in film photography as well. She uses a poet-and-shoot that we found in a camera shop in Cologne, Germany, last year. She’s currently sitting on a few rolls of undeveloped film while she tries to find a place to process them!

  6. Such lovely photos. You should be very proud of yourself. Your friends are lucky to have a friend that understands photo composition.

  7. Welcome to the world of film photography…
    I think you are lucky to start with a Canon Rebel, a quite modern film SLR. It’s (for my taste) not as beautiful and cool as the classic, fully manual SLRs from the 1960ies and 70ies (let alone rangefinders and medium format), but it’s comfortabel to use with AF and some auto-features. And it exposes really nice, the second image of the driving girl is really good. Try out what it can offer, aperture-priority, manual metering etc.
    What lens did you use ? I you haven’t, try a 50mm prime lens, it’s so much fun to play with shallow depths of field. Your last shot is a bit out of focus, never rely on AF (if you used AF for it) ! It’s nice to have and helps a lot for spontaneous shots, but it doesn’t know, what you want to do. Some skills in manual focussing are really helpful.
    But the most important: Have fun…!!!

    1. The lens that I used was a Voigtlander 40mm EF lens. Thank you for the advice, I will try manual focusing on my next roll.

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