How to catch the film photography bug

6 comments on How to catch the film photography bug
2 minutes

This is the first photo I took that I thought was any good.

It was 1982 and I was about 15. I’d collected cameras for eight years but had not put film through most of them. Film was expensive! But I finally decided to go for it, and bought a roll of Kodacolor II in 620 for my Kodak Duaflex II. That’s a 1950s box camera dressed up to look like a TLR with a hooded waist-level viewfinder. I had a nice time photographing things around my childhood home.

When the prints came back from the processor, I could see that these were the finest photographs I’d ever made. That was a low bar to clear in those days — I had no skills. But everything was reasonably well composed, well exposed, and in good focus. Win!

And then I came to this print. Seeing it was a watershed moment: the first time an image I had made really pleased me. I gasped when I saw it: I did that? I did that! It’s actually sort of good!

This moment stayed with me over the decades, even through the crazy busy years with my own young family when my cameras necessarily stayed in boxes in my closet. And then my first marriage ended, and seeking to recover from that pain and loss I eagerly sought something to do that would bring me pleasure and joy. Is it any surprise that I turned to film and cameras? And so it began.

This isn’t the whole photograph, by the way. The Duaflex shoots square photos. This is a quick rescan I made on my Wolverine film digitizer. That little machine is meant to handle 110, 126, and 127 negatives natively. But 120/620 negatives fit; the machine just can’t “see” the whole frame. So I lined it up to the image’s most interesting part and pressed the button. And then I cropped it again, in Photoshop, to 4×6. And so I get to enjoy it anew. It still makes me happy.

You can see the whole photo in my review of the Duaflex II camera here.


6 responses to “How to catch the film photography bug”

  1. J P Cavanaugh Avatar

    Before I started reading, I thought this was some of your current work. Very nice, especially for something taken at such a young age!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Just lucky. The bikes were there, I was sitting there, I framed, I shot.

  2. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    I love those a-ha moments!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      They can change your life!

  3. Ivan Pilov Avatar

    You’re being unnecessarily modest about this shot, imo. It’s awesome! Both the original and the cropped one, and check out the amount of sharpness left after this double-crop.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Why thank you! It still makes me happy 35 years later.

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