It’s been exactly twenty five years since the first time I used a photographic camera. Silver anniversary, so to speak, which simply demands some kind of celebration or at least distinct marking on my life timeline, but how and with what exactly? A smart phone generated selfie while holding an old 35mm camera? Social media posts decorated with 25 camera shaped burning candles? Perhaps ten personal favourite photos I took over the last 25 years? No, no and no. So what then? Well, here is an idea that I had in mind for some time but never got about doing it, until now! How about homage to the days when I just started learning about photography while using 35mm (or indeed larger format) film cameras? Yes! So, without further ado, let’s dive into it.
During 12 years of using film cameras I have snapped exactly 224 rolls of film and yes, I have all of them filed including the very first roll I have ever bought and developed! While it is absolutely great that I didn’t lose any negatives, this fact became a big problem a few years ago when I’ve finally decided to digitalise them all. Sure, this is not a big deal if you are rich enough and therefore able to pay someone to grind-scan through 224 rolls of film. But if you are not, the only other option left is to buy your own scanner and to do it yourself. Needless to say, this is exactly what I did! However, as you can probably imagine, buying a film scanner is not enough since you also need to have plenty of time and energy for such an adventure.
After plenty of self-persuasion and hard work, the job was finally done! It took me just over a year to scan through the entire lot. I did it by giving myself a task of going through one film per day since I would have probably gone insane if I was to do more than that. Scanning is both very boring and very time consuming, so if you ever find yourself in the same or similar situation, be warned!
My intention over the coming weeks is to split this part of my creative photographic work into about half a dozen episodic blog posts where I will showcase some of the images from those 224 scanned rolls as well as write a few words on how and where they were taken. The first blog post in this series will be purely dedicated to my first ever roll of film due to its symbolic significance while the remaining films will be grouped in one way or the other.
MY FIRST ROLL OF FILM
In the early 1990s I found myself in a rather delicate situation, to put it mildly. Teenager and stuck in a wartorn country of former Yugoslavia with very little idea what to do with myself and what the near future, yet alone the distant one, might hold for me. What I did know at the time is that I am deeply in love with literature and alternative music so at least I’ve had something to occupy my mind with and to keep me sane in such hopeless situations.
By the end of 1994, deeply inspired by some of my favourite authors, F. Kafka, A. Camus, J.L. Borges, H. Hesse and H. Miller and bands such as Dead Can Dance, Cocteau Twins, And Also The Trees, Bauhaus, Joy Division and The Cure to name just a few, I have already written fair few short stories and recorded dozen or so demo songs with my like-minded friends. These semi-delirious and quirky artistic outbursts were enough to set me on a creative path in life but music and writing simply wasn’t enough since I had a feeling that there was something else in me that was trying to manifest itself through a different medium.
Soon enough, I borrowed Ricoh KR10 Super with a 50mm lens attached to it from my step father. He hardly ever used the camera – any camera – so he wasn’t really able to teach me anything apart from how to focus the lens, load the film, advance it and press the shutter button. Aperture ring on the lens, shutter speed dial, exposure compensation dial and other functions meant nothing at all. Luckily, Ricoh KR10 Super was a decent camera with easy to understand built-in light meter and glorious aperture priority semi-automatic setting. Thanks to this, snapping off my first 36 exposures wasn’t as hard as I initially thought that it would be.
I was always attracted to the timeless mood and the atmosphere black and white film emulsion creates, both in still and moving image, so it was easy to decide which film to buy – Efke KB 100 – the only B&W film available in the shop. Clearly, I couldn’t go wrong with that one! Efke range of B&W films was locally produced by Fotokemika, factory near the city of Zagreb in Croatia (former Yugoslavia) and only decades later I was to find that it is one of the best rated black and white films ever made. Interesting, to say the least.
As far as I can remember, it took me a fairly long time to go through 36 exposures, develop the film and get the prints from it – perhaps as long as 6-8 weeks in total! Set of small, postcard size prints that I have received from a local photographic shop changed my life forever making photography integral part of my creative expression. Images from this film reflect my aimless war time wandering on relation Metkovic – Makarska, two small Dalmatian towns, and features, between everything and everyone else, some of my friends and family I used to hang around with.
TO BE CONTINUED
Meanwhile, check out portfolio of my personal photographic work: