Exactly one year ago I started my photography all over again. I decided to start from the beginning. I’ve always looked up photographers but never considered myself of being one. I have been into photography for ages, but for some reason I’ve always felt that I am not a real photographer. By deciding to change that, I stepped into a rabbit hole. Now — only one year later, everything is different. Not only I feel like a photographer, I’m also proud of my work and my confidence level is 10/10.

Bying a newer camera didn’t resolve anything

I hate having unfinished business. Learning photography was one of those things. Back in the days I was really interested in photography, but didn’t take the time to really get deep. One year ago I came back from a hiking trip in Lapland and after being disappointed with my trip photos, I realised that my photography hadn’t been evolving in any significant way for many years. First I blamed the camera, because I was using a semi-outdated Nikon DLSR. Purchasing a newer camera didn’t seem to help, but it kickstarted my something else.

Re-discovering film photography

Then something magical happened. I was in the attic going through my old Canon FD lenses, which I wanted to adapt to my mirrorless camera. I had a box full of my old gear from the film days. On the bottom of one box was something shiny. A silver object was almost like whispering to me… much like the “one ring”, I felt like it wanted to be found. It was my old Canon AE-1. I looked at it and had a distinct feeling that this is it. The missing link.

One of my hypothesis’ is that relying on the technology prevented me to really learn the fundamental skills of photography. Analog camera doesn’t have anything but only few settings and a shutter button. It is remorseless. It will reveal just how much you SUCK! It will reveal your skill level. How much do you really know about composition? How well do you really know how light and optics work? When and why should you actually be pressing the shutter? What do you do when you have only 36 frames and there is not a single circuit board to help you? Believe me — shoot one year with film and you’ll be a better photographer. Use a mechanical camera. Have a 50mm lens and iso400 black and white film. You — will — learn. You will have to practise and study. You will have to learn all the theory and true fundamentals. Lightroom or a pro DLSR will not compensate the lack of skill, ever. Learn the fundamentals, learn them the hard way by practising, studying, failing and trying all over again. After that, when you take all what you learned to your DSLR photography… holy shit! You won’t even believe what film can teach about photography.

So this was the major plot point for me when everything changed. I started to practise. I practised, practised and practised. I started to study. I studied, studied and studied. I realised that there were no short cuts. This has been amazing year and I can’t wait what will come next. I can’t wait to see my work five years from now!

Correction: I was pointed out that there actually is a circuit board on the Canon AE-1.

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  • Cello
    Posted September 16, 2017 at 9:06 am 0Likes

    Hi Pekka
    Thank you for sharing your experience here … it is very motivating as I am also back to analogue photography since a year … both, 35mm and medium format. I really see myself thinking much more before release the shutter.

    Keep on going

    • Pekka
      Posted September 16, 2017 at 12:27 pm 0Likes

      Thank you very much for commenting! Nice to hear you have also back to film. Hope all is well! Take care and keep shooting.

  • Conny Lomoherz
    Posted September 16, 2017 at 1:57 pm 0Likes

    Love the story. Glad you got back to the roots in order to be able to evolve even further 👌

    • Pekka
      Posted September 16, 2017 at 7:22 pm 0Likes

      Thank you very much for commenting! Sure was the right move to make. Take care!

  • Daniel Batts
    Posted September 16, 2017 at 2:04 pm 0Likes

    Theses are the very same reasons I have returned to shooting film after many years. Digital has made photographers lazy and lacking the very basic skills that set the great photographers apart from the rest. Many laugh at the thought of shooting film in the digital society we live in, mostly those who’ve never shot film and know the feeling it gives you. Good luck with your shooting.

    • Pekka
      Posted September 16, 2017 at 7:24 pm 0Likes

      I really think more people should give film a try. I get a lot of laughs and giggles too, but little do they know how much we film enthusiast are getting out of this.

  • Beatriz
    Posted September 16, 2017 at 4:44 pm 0Likes

    Thank you for sharing your enthusiasm! I’m studying analog photography, working in its process fulfil my expectations!

    • Pekka
      Posted September 16, 2017 at 7:28 pm 0Likes

      That sounds awesome! I hope your studies are doing well. Would be awesome to see your results.

  • Alejandro Sandoval
    Posted September 16, 2017 at 7:00 pm 0Likes

    Great experience you have shared. For me it is a challenge, and it is the first time that a talk, and in this case an article, presents me with so much passion and arguments, (my work is only digital) Hugs and attentive to your next publications.

    • Pekka
      Posted September 16, 2017 at 7:32 pm 0Likes

      Thank you so much for the encouraging words! Very kind of you. Take care!

  • Thomas Lindahl Robinson
    Posted September 17, 2017 at 1:06 am 0Likes

    I only know film. It’s all I know, as digital did not exist when I was born or when I took my first photography. Since I am too invested in film and computers are too confusing for me, I simply stick to what I know. http://www.thomaslindahlrobinson.com

    • Pekka
      Posted September 17, 2017 at 6:46 am 0Likes

      I love that approach. I looked your website too — absolutely stunning work!

  • Andrew
    Posted September 18, 2017 at 6:24 am 0Likes

    I am really pleased that you have discovered ‘real’ photography. I have long believed that the easier photography is made for people, the lazier they get. Shooting film makes you think, and you have to put effort in. But when it works,… the reward is so good!
    Like Thomas above, I have shot film all of my working life, and although I can admire the technology in modern cameras, I hate using them. Keep going with film, and if you want to take that amazing sense of achievement further, learn how to print in a darkroom! http://www.andrewsanderson.com Instagram: andrewsandersonphotography

    • Pekka
      Posted September 18, 2017 at 11:27 am 0Likes

      Thank you for taking the time to write such a nice and thoughtful reply. I’m glad to hear your thoughts, because I feel exactly the same and I get sort of a confirmation for my own thinking. Thanks for linking your work — looks amazing! I’ll give you a follow on Instagram.

  • PaulB
    Posted September 18, 2017 at 6:46 am 0Likes

    Totally agree.
    I started with film many years ago – taught it for a while and then lapsed into digital pretty early on.
    A couple of months ago I discovered an abandoned Mamiya Press 23 and decided to run a film through it. The magic came back, it was like coming home.

    Since then I’ve managed to acquire an Arca 5×4 – something I always promised myself but never quite got around to. I suggest that every photographer should try large format at least once. I,be learnt more in the last 2 months than in the last 15 years, and yes my digital work has improved too.

    • Pekka
      Posted September 18, 2017 at 11:46 am 0Likes

      Similar kind of story it seems. I happened to acquire the past summer a 120 format TLR camera, which I’m planning to try out next. Maybe it’s the large format after that.

  • Rod Pascoe
    Posted September 18, 2017 at 11:03 am 0Likes

    I’d love to still shoot film but the cost of film and developing is getting more and more expensive. Shame really as love film.

    • Pekka
      Posted September 18, 2017 at 11:51 am 0Likes

      I think it was John over at Film Photography Podcast that said on some episode, that he pretty much just throws the change from his pockets to a piggy bank, which becomes his film money. I can’t remember exactly, but I’ve adapted a similar plan. I don’t spend actually no more than probably 20—30€ on film per month and half of that is paid with the coins from the kitchen jar. If you haven’t looked into home developing, that’s a really good way to save pennies. The chemicals can last over and over.

  • Louis Sousa
    Posted September 18, 2017 at 9:41 pm 0Likes

    Well done! Participate in the Film Shooters Collective weekly themes, check out our site it is a wealth of information and wonderful photography. LASousa

    • Pekka
      Posted September 20, 2017 at 7:25 am 0Likes

      Thank you — I will do that! Cheers!

    Posted September 19, 2017 at 2:14 pm 0Likes

    A great experience, for which I am also going through. Nothing compared to getting back to the roots. Analogue photography leads you to think, reflect and connect, be part of each photograph. It is a different experience, something necessary to evolve as a photographer.

    • Pekka
      Posted September 20, 2017 at 7:25 am 0Likes

      I hope your film endeavours are doing well! Two thumbs up. : )

  • Pavel P
    Posted September 19, 2017 at 4:06 pm 0Likes

    Nothing against film photography, but I see no reason to shoot analog in 2017.

    • Pekka
      Posted September 20, 2017 at 7:24 am 0Likes

      There are million reasons to shoot film, but they’re all subjective of course, and not for every one. For someone it’s nostalgia and keeping the tradition alive. To someone else it’s the look and feel or just the fun of it.

  • Trackback: Is there any reason to shoot film? – Attempts at 35mm
  • kat
    Posted September 20, 2017 at 11:01 am 0Likes

    @Pavel: That’s like saying “Nothing against bikes but I see no reason in cycling when there are cars in 2017” 😉 It’s just a choice.

  • Kieran O'Halloran
    Posted September 20, 2017 at 2:56 pm 0Likes

    I really want to start shooting film and learn how to work in a dark room.. Can anyone point me in the right direction starting with where I could buy a reasonably priced second hand camera?

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