If you've been following the adventures of my Instagram story, you'll know that I recently discovered an undeveloped roll of film from 2011. As odd as it may seem, I remember the exact circumstances that led to the roll being hidden away. I just finished the roll of film, but didn't think that any of the 26 photos I took on it were particularly noteworthy. At the time, I was in high school and jobless. The lofty $14 or so to develop and scan the roll didn't seem worth it at the time, so I put the roll into my closet to protect it from light in hopes that I would one day decide to develop it.
5 years later, as I was planning a post about my experience with film (expect that in the coming weeks), I was collecting photos from every roll that I shot in the past few years and recalled the roll's existence. After a surprisingly brief search, I found it. I had little idea what dormant memories were hidden within the light-sealed roll, but I did recall two things: one, the circumstances that led to it being stowed away, and two, that there were most likely a few blurry photos of birds on the roll.
Excited to finally unearth these memories, I took the roll to a local London Drugs the very next day to have the negatives developed and scanned. Being somebody who always prepares for the worst, I half expected to receive a blank roll back from the lab, but was pleasantly surprised to receive an email link to download the photos a few hours later.
The photos were just as I expected: mediocre at best. It was my second roll of film ever (well actually, third, if you count the roll that I loaded improperly and didn't realize it didn't catch until I noticed the spool wasn't spinning, but let's pretend that never happened), and I was still in the digital mindset. I rushed through the roll hoping to see what memories I captured, without focussing (pun intended, see photos below) on capturing moments that mattered.
Despite this, I was surprised at some of the photos. Although they are mediocre to me now, looking back at my digital photos from the same time, some of these were much better than I thought I was capable of at the time. The knowledge of the price I paid for the film forced me to carefully think out my initial shots. Limitations like these aren't something that us digital natives are used to.
Memory is cheap, so we fire away at anything we see. I'm sure we've all seen people who take at least 20 photos of a single dessert. This isn't something you do with film.
This creative thinking my budget forced upon me was unfortunately outweighed by my impatience. The instant gratification I was used to from digital cameras brought me to rush through the final shots of the roll, excited to see what the photos would look like. This impatience was ironically what led to me hiding the roll away for 5 years.
There is a clear divide between the photos I took over a few weeks, savouring every frame, and the shots I took all within a day, hoping to run to the film lab as soon as possible.
This is a point that's most likely a cliché by now, but looking back, shooting film has definitely taught me that imposing limits on yourself forces you to compensate by thinking outside the box. Expect a more detailed post about my more recent film adventures soon, but this is just a small incident I thought I'd share.