Next weekend my cousin Ian is getting married and my wife is going to be taking some pictures during ceremony. So over the last few days we’ve been pulling together our camera kit, making sure it’s all working nicely and is ready for action. Whilst doing this I decided to pick out one of my vintage 35mm cameras to take along and shoot some photos as well.
Most of my film cameras used to be belong to my paternal grandfather, in fact although he passed away over 20 years ago I still think of them as his cameras. Carefully wrapped up in bubble wrap there’s a couple of wonderful pieces of Nikon engineering from the late 70s and early 80s, including this Nikon F2.
Over the years my grandfather documented lots of family weddings, my grandmother left standing next to a heavy bag of kit whilst he snapped away. I’m fortunate to have his collection of cameras and lenses which date back to the 1950s, most of which are in fantastic condition.
So this morning I nipped out and picked up a couple of new batteries and some Ilford black and white film. I’m going to run a roll through to test that it’s still working - though I’m pretty sure it is. It’s a joy to use, the metering is clean and simple and there’s a box full on lenses to choose from. I’m sure they won’t let me down.
This feature on the BBC website about a news photographer who was forced to shoot reportage pictures from the London riots with his mobile phone (to avoid getting lynched) got me thinking about the changing nature of the camera.
My wife takes some amazing pictures, sometimes with a digital SLR and at other times with her iPhone. We have lots of cameras in the house, from a medium format AgiFlex, that dates from the early 1950s to the achingly high tech Nikon D200 that I use for most of my pictures.
All these cameras are different to use, with advantages and drawbacks. The analogue film cameras don’t get much use, but that’s more financial than aesthetic. Probably the best pictures I’ve ever taken were with my enormous Nikon F5 and a manual focus 55mm prime lens. I’d use it much more if it didn’t cost so much to develop the pictures
And yet the medium continues to matter, to some. Tacita Dean’s call to arms at the Tate, a pean to the fading age of 35mm movie film and even my experiments with ‘new’ polaroid style film show that analogue photography continues to be part of the photographic conversation.
Yet, for most people these days camera is synonymous with phone. Maybe this debate about the format doesn’t matter so much as the fact that people continue to be passionate about photography - both the process and the pictures.