FILM ROLL : Memories from a time photography had something magical.

By Eyelighted | Eyelighted | 9 Dec 2020


I started photography in 2002, I was 18 back then. I bought my first camera from an architect who was a member of the photo club I was involved with. He sold me a Canon A1 with a 28mm, 50mm and 200mm lenses. I was thrilled and so excited to start my photography courses at school to gain skills on how to master my camera. I signed up without knowing exactly what photography was and how does it worked but I was about to discover something magical.

Photography is coming from Heliography which literally translates to "writing with the sun". In other words, photography is the art to write/draw with lights. In fact in photography you don't capture an object but the light reflected by the object as well as you don't see things or people but the light they are reflecting. This is the reason why in the dark you don't see anything!


It was all about using light to create and write my stories, to do so a camera and film rolls were needed and back then digital camera were still expensive and not democratised to general public. The press were talking about it but the constructor were still bringing new films camera out so we were all using silver and light to create.

This was still a time in which you had to choose between 12, 24 or 36 frames roll, color or black & white. The ISO couldn't be changed from a photo to another, it was the same for the all roll and you had to make sure you selected the right ISO on the camera otherwise you light measurement would be wrong. There were no chance to see if the photo was well exposed or focused after shooting it and of course deleting the photos if they were bad to gain space on the roll wasn't possible!


When loading a film in the camera, you had to make sure it wasn't well placed otherwise you would end up shooting your 45th photo of a 36 frames film roll which wasn't right and of course the roll will come out empty after being developed.

I remember marking the frame number of my B&W roll before rewinding it in order to swap it for the color roll. After shooting a few coloured snaps, I would mark the frame number and rewind the roll so I could load back the B&W roll and take photos with the lens cover on, making sure no light printed my film. I would shoot with the cover on until I reached a frame over my memo.

Developing film and printing photos on paper in the laboratory was very cool, I was locking myself in the lab with the red light switched on watching an image slowly appearing on the submerged paper while getting high with pot. I used to develop with brushes to give effect on my prints, breaking a glass, place my paper underneath and expose through to create a shattering effect on my pictures, flash the light for a fraction of a second to solarize my films or prints. I used to create photograms featuring characters made of different objects and experiment colours turns.

brush development

Coloured turns

solarized print

Drop and brush development


I loved experimenting with cross processing, developing positive E6 films using C41 (negative film) chemical processing which could give weird colours film such as green or purple... these were wonderful years of experimenting with photography !

cross processing

cross processing

When digital cameras arrived, I bought myself a Nikon D70, 6 millions pixels in a revolutionary box but I wasn't that excited about digital photography in the first place because I knew it would definitely change the game and the rules. I previously bought myself a Nikon FM2 and trading this legendary camera for this new technology featuring Dematerialized pictures made of electric bits stacked in memory cards didn't thrilled me that much.

Eventually I did switch to digital and kept my film cameras as a personal collection. Today there isn't as many film roll as there used to be, chemical products to develop became really hard to find and quite expensive. Digital technology is in every hands and products you never would have expected to be able to capture photos such as phones have 40x zoom with 108 millions pixel on board! Everyone can pretend to be a photographer today and I have to say, digital photography became really good over the years with so many editing software to work with. I think digital photography has brought more possibilities than ever while killing the authenticity and the magic of photography.

Digital photography is without a doubt more practical but it did not and will never replace film cameras with all its charm, at least not in my heart.

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