Over Christmas a film SLR from 1987 happened to come my way. I’ve been carefully shooting a roll of B&W since January and finally finished it at the weekend with the arrival of the piglets. But on Thursday a very apologetic and unhappy man on my local photo desk told me the machine had broken with my film in it, and most of the pictures on the roll were gone.
This hasn’t happened me before and sums up all that is good and bad with film. With digital, the fate of my pictures are literally in my hands. I can see exactly what I’ve shot as I go. If something happens the files it will more than likely be my fault, so I’ve nobody else to blame. But I feel that some of the mystique of photography is gone with this, which is why I’ve started to use so many different film cameras over the past few years.
With analogue I usually drop my film in to be developed, wait impatiently to get the pictures back and then excitedly leaf through them having forgotten about some frames and hopefully being delighted about how some (or all) turn out. At the same time you put your pictures in the hands of someone else and trust that you will get the frames back, solid and real on pieces of paper, ready to go into albums or onto frames.
I know it is rare to have a film be completely ruined like this, but I can’t help being really disappointed days later. Most pictures on the roll can be taken again, one way or another, but some were taken on a very special day when I was told some really good news, so they’re gone for good.
This doesn’t make me less keen to shoot film, but it does make me more inclined to bring a digital camera with me at the same time, just in case.