Mourning Film Photography this Morning


This morning I find myself missing film, which I thought I never would.  I started working in the darkroom around eight or nine years old.  Back then it was an adventure, everything was new and amazing and I would lie awake at night wondering how my photographs would turn out.  Remember sun prints?  I blew through that first pack of paper in minutes.  My parents encouraged me by sending me to area day camps for photography and my father’s trusty Canon point and shoot was never far away.  In high school digital photography was improving moment by moment, so we split the elective course into half darkroom and half photoshop.  I think it was version five or so, I can’t exactly remember.  I loved playing and experimenting, but I never took it seriously as an area of study.  When I finally settled on photography half way through my sophomore year of college, I had no idea what I was in for.

At the time my first college photography courses began, I was also waiting tables about 35 hours a week and carrying a heavy course load.  I had trouble making it to the lab to work on assignments between classes and my job.  I was also a magnet for accidents.  Murphy’s law on steroids.  My film would get exposed loading the camera, unloading, developing, washing, etc.  My shots would be juuuuust out of focus if I’d forgotten to wear my glasses either when shooting or developing.  ::sigh::  I was a mess.  I began to dread the darkroom.  I was thrilled to start working in our school’s “digital” darkroom.  Photoshop was a welcome relief from the time and anxiety of earlier classes since I had a version on my own personal computer too.


But this morning I miss the smell of the chemicals.  I miss the butterflies I’d get while waiting for film to develop to see if I got “the” shot.  I miss the magic of images appearing out of apparently no where on white paper.  I miss the richness and depth of black and white before it was a fun effect on your cell phone’s camera. One of these days, I’ll get back to it.



One thought on “Mourning Film Photography this Morning

  1. The smell of the darkroom chemicals still makes me swoon and memories of college darkrooms flood my mind. Digital is quick and accessible, but film photography and darkroom processes are so much more satisfying.

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