Becoming Mindful: Film Photography

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Are you the type of person who likes to be as efficient as possible when doing anything, even traveling? Do you get things done in half the time it takes others? Maybe you always feel anxious or always rush yourself with time. You might be the first person in the office every morning, but at the same time, you missed all the potential beauty that comes with your walk from the car to your desk. If you feel like any of those scenarios apply to you or you just feel general anxiety about life, it may be time to look into film photography. 

Why film photography specifically?

In today’s modern age, we all have access to our cell phones, which have pretty amazing photo capabilities. Snapping a quick picture of a sunset or of an amazing meal at a restaurant is easier that it has ever been before. However, with that comes a certain laissez-faire attitude with photography as well. If you mess a photo up or you don’t like it, simply hit delete and take another one.

The world of digital photography is wonderfully accessible, but it also allows us to all take it for granted as well. 

The power of film photography is the very limited nature it has. A single roll of 35mm film has about 24 exposures or frames on it from which to take photos. If suddenly you could only take 24 photos at a time without having to purchase another roll of film, you’d want those photos to count, wouldn’t you? 

That is the magic of film. It forces you to think about every shot you want to take. There needs to be a motivation behind each one. So now when you are on your next vacation when you see an amazing sunrise rather than the old pulling the phone out, snapping a quick photo and moving on. You will instead measure the light to make sure your exposure is right, looking through the viewfinder to check the exact framing, and just taking a few calm breaths before clicking the shutter button. 

The power of pause

In that last point made regarding film photography is where the biggest difference is made with mindfulness in your surroundings. With the fast-paced world we all live in now, when is the last time you truly took a pause? Not just a moment to walk away from your desk to look at your phone, but a true carefree breath. It is easy to surmise that it might not be as often as you like. 

Snapping a photo through an old 35mm film camera or even better, a medium format style camera might at first force that pause on you but given enough time it will be second nature. As enough practice of taking film photos goes on, you might even find that there are days without your camera that you are just taking a moment to appreciate a beautiful building or a gorgeous sunset without even thinking about it. 

It is another tool that can help you let the stress melt away, even if only for a few brief moments. 

How can I get started?

Getting started with film photography is just a matter of a few simple steps in order to get started. 

  • Explore local thrift shops, flea markets, or eBay for a working film camera.
  • Purchase film that will work for that camera (majority will be 35mm film) which you can acquire at most online camera stores such as B&H Photo. If you have a local camera store, even better.
  • Pick up a light meter to help you get perfect exposure for your photos.
  • Find a few YouTube videos on how to load film into the camera if needed.
  • Do a little research on light metering as well if you’ve never used one before (finding the right exposure for your photo is another step of pausing for a few moments as well).

After just a few steps, you have yourself an amazing new hobby which is going to help you find new ways of not only slowing down but inevitably expressing yourself too. As you get the film developed, you will be amazed at the amount of joy and pride you will feel taking some beautiful photos that you can share with friends, family and even online. 

Every frame is a new chance to find a new you!