My friends and I would sometimes spend our Wednesday afternoon at a sushi place that offered a discounted prices at the same time as our break.

There was a whole year where I used to bring a film camera everywhere I went.

I did not have my DSLR camera yet (and I immensely wished to have one) nor did I have a phone, or any gadget for that matter, with a nice camera. I only worked with a Canon point-and-shoot digital camera that our family owned and I took photos of almost every little thing with it. At that time, photography was my main art form, my way of self-expression, and my hobby along with sharing the photos I took on my Tumblr blog. Actually, the two things came hand in hand. I took photos to blog and I blogged to take photos.

Anyway, around that time, film photography suddenly became a trend at the small community of bloggers I was part of on Tumblr. Of course, being who I was—curious and hyper fixated—I dug out an old film camera from the depths of my family’s vault of abandoned and forgotten things and tried out film photography myself and from then on, I invested the little of my savings from my allowance on my new found hobby and brought along my film camera everywhere.

I did some research beforehand: where to buy and get film developed. My mother told me where she would get films developed in the past when digital photography hadn't yet existed and I would visit the places in between my classes to ask if the places still offer such services, or even if they still existed. I found one—of the only two I could find in my city—that’s not too far from my school. It was an old, local shop. I asked for the prices and even looked around if they were selling film cameras the first time I went and then walked the way to my school so I could memorize the route. Mind you, it was at the middle of the day, I could still remember. I walked under a scorching sun beside bustling downtown streets with their smog and dust. And arrived in my class exhausted and sweaty and gasping for the classroom’s air condition as if it was my lifeline. Oh, the dedication.

My first film roll from what I can remember was a Kodak Colorplus 200 though I’m not quite sure anymore. I do remember that the film rolls I tried were the cheapest ones because it was the only one I could afford and the only price range I am willing to save up for at that time. This was, from the file info, September of 2013. Eight years! Practically a lifetime ago and I cannot believe it. Looking at these photos, despite me having the memory of a goldfish and the film look making the photos seem more nostalgic and old, it feels like it was just yesterday. It is what I love most about photography. I get to freeze and frame a memory and just one look at the photos enables me to remember such memories quite vividly.

However, I came to find this as some sort of hindrance when I was considering film photography.


You only get a limited number of shots in film photography. I had around 36 shots from the film rolls I bought. Thirty-six minus some, accounting for the possibility of ruining a few shots knowing that I was working with film on top of an old film camera. But, I am that type of person that wants and needs to take a photo of almost every single thing, of every single moment happening just in case it would turn out to be significant in time. I was obsessive like that. The combination of film photography and my objectives would, theoretically, never work together. Nevertheless, I tried it.

Three (Important) Points:

  • I only discovered after getting my first two film rolls developed that the film camera I was using works best with flash. Not the “best” results since it was only a point-and-shoot camera as well but at least, you get proper lighting and visible subjects on your photos. The film rolls I used were all ISO 200, too, and the little instructions that it had on the box said to use flash especially when indoors.
  • Even after learning about when and where to use the flash setting and a bit about ISO (it was from film photography that I understood what is ISO and, now, use it for digital), I still was very hesitant using my camera’s flash. It made me really conscious, especially when I would take photos in a crowded area. These are some of the many #fail in my first trials with film photography.
  • One tip my mom shared when I tried film photography is not to open the camera’s film cartridge when you’ve loaded a roll. She said it’s the absolute rule, so as to not burn and ruin your film roll. But, somehow, even with this knowledge, I still opened the camera. Mid-day. Under the sun while waiting for a ride home. I ruined some of my photos depicting some of the more memorable moments that year. Still, the roll I burned was one of my more successful film rolls. I love the look of the film burns too.

For one film roll, one of my friends lent me her family’s own film camera. I remember that it was also a point-and-shoot camera but I think it had a zoom setting. It worked really well and after getting my roll developed, I learned my own film camera produced different colors. If I am correct, as it turns out, the film camera I had leans more to the lomography line of cameras. Although, I’m not a hundred percent sure.

The photos using my friends’ camera mostly turned out of focus and blurry. But it most likely could, also, be my fault. I didn’t bother to adjust to anything. At this point, it was probably my third film roll and I settled on allowing myself to stop thinking and just fully enjoy the process—taking photos, counting down the number of shots, rolling to the next one, rolling the film back after you finished it, and most especially (my favorite part!) the waiting and surprise after getting your film developed. And, it turns out the thing I initially thought was a hindrance was the thing I found most enjoyable about film photography.


The limited number of shots perhaps made me consider the moments I wanted to take photos of more. It definitely helped me stay and partake in the moment as I tend to get too lost and too focused on capturing the moment (and trying to capture it perfectly being the frustrated photographer that I am) rather than living it. Film photography, because I know my number of shots are limited, made me savor the moments, making sure that it was indeed worth capturing for remembrance until it, the act of taking photos, became a second thought rather than a priority. That was also when I realized how warped my objective on photography had become.

It suddenly was all about making the perfect shot rather than a remembrance. Worst, I realized it had become “all for the gram”, taking photos that I thought people on the internet would hit the like button for rather than for artistry, for myself like when I initially started.

TL;DR — Trying out Film Photography really helped me a lot. My results were more failures at face value but even so, I learned so much from the experience. From the basics and technicality of photography that one could easily overlook on digital photography with all of its automatic settings and what-nots, to rediscovering my love, even extending it with additional new perspectives, for the art form. Overall, it was such a great experience and certainly made me fall in-love.

I still have a couple of film rolls that I couldn’t add on here since I had them printed rather than developed digitally and I don’t have a scanner. I also have another that, after four years, I have yet to have developed. Those were actually my most successful rolls since by that point, I was more used to things. Then, I had to stop around my sixth, seventh roll and after that one year because of, well, life but, currently, I am looking to get back into it. I certainly have an impulsive need to buy a film camera I found online. However, I am choosing to plan things out. For one, I have to plan for the expenses as it is not the only hobby I am currently investing on. We’ll see!

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