In an era where digital media can be found everywhere, it can be hard to find activities that allow for less screen time. But recently, analog technology like film photography has been making a comeback, allowing people to not only get away from the screens but reclaim old hobbies as new.
Julie Le, a student at the University of Calgary and an amateur film photographer, says she began with experimenting with her mother’s old film camera, which turned into a love for snapping pictures and waiting for the finished product.
“I love how you can’t see the photos you took right away until after you developed them, I love that I can discover it later,” says Le.
Le’s film journey has taken her everywhere from Calgary to Portugal where she found architecture was her favourite subject to shoot.
But with taking film pictures comes a long process of development, a process that some like Le are not as eager to participate in as they are with taking the photos.
This isn’t the case for Azriel Knight, a local photographer and longtime film camera user who says anyone can develop their shots with a little practice. He has a YouTube channel dedicated to his darkroom experiments and different development techniques for film camera users.
“Everything has to be done at a certain temperature. Especially with the developing process,” says Knight.
And everything must be done for a certain amount of time too. Knight says a huge part of the process is allowing the chemicals to sit in timed intervals before stirring to ensure the film role stays coated. Doing this ensures the image’s clarity.
From a newcomer’s perspective, the idea of developing film might be daunting. But Knight says all it takes is practice and that anyone with the time, supplies and interest can do it.
As the development process, shooting on a film camera takes patience and practice too.
“When you use a film camera everything slows down… the process makes you slow down and think about what you want to shoot, you can’t immediately check your work. You’ve got to trust that you’ve got the shot,” says Knight.
Knight was reintroduced to film photography in the late 2000s and found himself fascinated by the skill it took to set up each shot.
“I think I found a camera in a thrift shop, and I gave it a go. And everything sort of clicked with me,” says Knight. “There was this anticipation of seeing the photos bringing it into the 1-hour photo to have it developed and that waiting process. And being like, ‘oh yeah, I totally forgot I shot that.’”
But even as a professional photographer, Knight still has the same feelings toward film photography from when he first discovered his enjoyment for it.
“There’s a certain magic with film even when you understand the process,” says Knight. “It’s the anticipation.”
Film development is bringing back a new edge, not only allowing for less screen time but the return of the excitement of seeing the moments you’ve captured.