In honor of a little #TBT, I wanted to take a second to reminisce about the blog I had a few years back called Melissa From the Ground Up. It was a quaint little blog with the tagline “Almost everything is better from scratch. Here is to living simple, doing it yourself, and being connected to life from the ground up.” There was really no purpose behind this blog except that I liked to share my fascination with learning about things in their original form. As a family, we pretty much live by this, not because we feel like we’re trying to prove anything, but just because it is fun and interesting, and for most things, it just feels right. (It also could be that we might be a little weird, but I’m ok with that.)
This blog featured anything from gardening, to kid projects, to our DIY home improvement projects. It had instructions on how to make your own yogurt or bake your own bread, and even a recipe for homemade deodorant. It shared our adventures in solar ovens, home birth, cloth diapers, my challenge to myself to not use the microwave, and a story about why you should wash your vegetables first before eating them straight out of the garden. (If you missed that last one, don’t ask, I’d rather not relive it.)
Anyways, there is a point to this reminiscing. Taking a step back and looking at all those little things that inspire me, it was a total “duh!” moment as to why I have fallen head over heals in love with, and have a sudden infatuation with film photography.
I admit, being in my own little photography bubble, the first time I heard about photographers using film instead of our expensive and fancy new high tech digital cameras, I was intrigued but honestly a little confused. Film is a dinosaur I thought. Why would someone want to use it? Film is a slow, film is expensive, and most importantly, you can’t look at that little screen on the back of your camera! AHHH! Who even develops film anymore?
My confusion quickly ceased when I began looking at other photographers’ images. It had been years since I had looked at one really. What did I see? Character, softness, beauty, details, and glorious glorious nostalgia. I can’t even fully describe it, but I was instantly in love. I could not (and still can’t) stop staring at film photos. Even photos from my heroes in the digital photography world, I would not study them like I do almost every film photo I view.
I quickly began reading everything that I could get my hands on about film in an effort to try to relearn it. I took photography in college, but that was forever ago and it was only black and white. How does the process even work?
After figuring out the basics, I couldn’t get my hands on a film camera soon enough. I pulled out and dusted off my old Pentax film camera that I used for my college photography courses. I went out and bought batteries for it and a few rolls of film. Unfortunately, when I fired it up, I found that it wasn’t working properly. I then searched ebay, and after some research I decided on and bought a Nikon F100. I got it in the mail, shot two rolls with my kids and sent the film off to a lab to process.
Then, like waiting for Christmas morning, I waited for the scans to show up in my email box. I was literally dreaming about them. Would the exposure be correct? Were any of them even in focus? Was I going to even like them after all of the studying I just did, and money I spent on the camera, film, and processing costs?
Finally, I saw the email I was waiting for. “Your scans are ready.” I downloaded the files and opened them up for a look. At first, I honestly didn’t know what to think of them. They were so different than what I am used to looking at in my digital work.
…So I closed my laptop and walked away.
About 20 minutes later, after the first soaked in, I opened the files again for a second look. With that second look, I realized how much I really loved them.
I was sold.
The details were amazing. Its like each hair on my daughter’s head was clear and distinct, but also soft and natural at the same time. The highlights were retained, even when overexposed. The skin tones were beautiful.
Best of all I didn’t have to spend hours editing them like I would have if they had been digital photos. They were perfectly beautiful on their own. A few tweaks here and there might be needed, but nothing like the retouching and color correcting that is needed with digital. For a mama who wants to be on the computer less and with her family more, this in itself was like a gift from the universe. Visions of me going to sleep at normal hours instead of being up editing in the wee hours of each night crept in my head. Why hello bliss.
What about the slow and expensive part? I’ll be honest, the slow part is probably the best part about it. Not only does it make me slow down while shooting and really think about each image, but the anticipation with the processing time is seriously like waiting for Santa. It is so much fun. And the expensive part? Well time is money, so I’m willing to make the trade.
So, after reading that previous blog that mentioned film, or seeing my film photos pop up on Instagram or Facebook, and you’re wondering what I’m thinking, here you go. This is the why.