Like many photographers in my age cohort, I shot film for decades before digital came along. Also like many others, I did some darkroom work back in the day, developing and printing black and white film. But I hadn’t shot film in probably 20 years … before buying a film camera a few months ago. I had read about the renewed interest in film, so I knew shooting film again had become a thing. I’d always liked the tangible, craft aspect of developing and printing, and still really like the look of silver gelatin prints, as opposed to inkjet prints. Recently I went to the Irving Penn exhibit in San Francisco, and seeing his prints was the final nudge to get me to try film again.

For the moment, shooting film is a hybrid process: I shoot film, have it developed in a lab, and then scanned. I import the scans into Lightroom and process them further there. My goal, however, is to arrive at a completely analog process. I’ve signed up for a darkroom class, and will have access to a darkroom in Oakland. Maybe by the end of summer, I can be making my own prints.

Here are just three shots from my first two rolls. This young lady was working in a bookstore in Oakland. She was dressed in black, and I had black and white film loaded, so I asked to take her picture.

This high-schooler was working at an art fair on the same day.

I met this man at an Oakland First Fridays street fair. He was shooting the same camera I also often use.

Shooting a film camera definitely slows you down, and is an adjustment coming from a digital camera that calculates everything for you. I plan to use both types of cameras, choosing the one I think will best fit the situations I’m heading out to photograph. For now, the film camera has the advantage of novelty, so I’m using it more. I expect it to settle in to a regular rotation with the digital cameras, but until then, I’ll be learning (or re-learning) more about the world of film photography.