In the modern age of digital cameras, I will quite regularly return from an event (especially sports) with 4000+ images to sort through. It's incredibly easy to snap away without thinking, because it's cheap, easy, and well why not?

A large roll of 35mm film will take 36 frames only. By the time you've bought the roll, developed it, printed it, scanned it, each of those costs upwards of a quid to take. So when I picked up a 13 year old Canon 33V in great condition, it was the perfect opportunity to practice thinking about what I was trying to achieve with each image. And to be annoyingly hipster at the same time...

Fujifilm Superia 400

Documentary and reportage wedding photographer
Documentary and reportage wedding photographer

And so the hipstermatic saw its first outing at the great street markets of South London: Maltby Street and Borough Market. I fitted right in amongst the flat whites and "poets for hire".

Getting the roll back from the developers (I don't do it myself, it's a right hassle) I was amazed by the richness of colour and the contrast in the images. The definition on the smoke from the barbecue was stronger even than it looked at the time. Film is magic!

Documentary and reportage wedding photographer
Documentary and reportage wedding photographer
Documentary and reportage wedding photographer

Ilford HP5 400

Next up on the tasting menu was a roll of Ilford HP5, a black and white film with a loooong history.

It delivered character in spades - everything came out super moody with lots of grain and contrast.

Documentary and reportage wedding photographer
Documentary and reportage wedding photographer
Documentary and reportage wedding photographer

Kodak Tri-X 400

Continuing the black and white theme, I next loaded up a roll of Kodak Tri-X. This is a legendary film. First released 62 years ago, it quickly became the film of choice for photojournalists and music photographers. The story goes that, when Kodak came close to bankruptcy in 2012, a number of photographers stocked up on thousands of rolls just in case, and now have fridges at home loaded with the stuff (cold prevents film from degrading).

Documentary and reportage wedding photographer
Documentary and reportage wedding photographer
Documentary and reportage wedding photographer
Documentary and reportage wedding photographer

I was starting to feel like my self-imposed challenge was working - after spending 5 minutes waiting for a pair of swans to line up just right so I could finally press the shutter, I knew that I'd learnt something. The care and effort I was putting in with the film camera was starting to come through in my digital shots as well - rather than snapping away and hoping that one of the shots would be OK, I was taking the time to check lighting, composition, and working harder to get my timing right.

Documentary and reportage wedding photographer
Documentary and reportage wedding photographer
Documentary and reportage wedding photographer
Documentary and reportage wedding photographer
Documentary and reportage wedding photographer
Documentary and reportage wedding photographer

Kodak Portra 400

Portra used to be a firm favourite amongst wedding photographers, known for its excellent skin tones and depth of colour. Although surpassed by the sheer convenience of digital (who wants to be switching out a roll mid ceremony?!), many photographers still emulate the colours that Portra delivers.

Documentary and reportage wedding photographer
Documentary and reportage wedding photographer
Documentary and reportage wedding photographer

I optimistically took this roll of Portra with me to Nepal and Japan - and despite my pleas to the contrary, it went through the x-ray machine at every airport we passed through. And after all that, I only took a couple of very average photos while I was out there. On the upside, I learnt that Portra 400 can withstand 11 passes through a baggage scanner...

A shout out to the kind lady at Wimbledon security who let me bypass the x-ray machine there, so at least it didn't become 12!

Documentary and reportage wedding photographer
Documentary and reportage wedding photographer
Documentary and reportage wedding photographer
Documentary and reportage wedding photographer
Documentary and reportage wedding photographer

And so, months after I started, I'd worked my way through a few rolls of 35mm film, and loved every minute of it. I can't wait to see what comes out of the next batch - it might take me a while to get through them though.


Thanks to Aperture Photographic and Snappy Snaps Crouch End for the processing. Yes, Snappy Snaps! They still exist, still sell film, and actually do a pretty decent job too.

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