Life Life

15/05/2018 - 08:00

Young people "holding time" with film cameras

Despite the speedy change and development of photography, many young nostalgic people still prefer old-fashioned film cameras.

Photos taken with film cameras have distinctive and tempting colors. 

It is as if each shot were more cherished and selective among moments. In masses of technology lovers, it is not very hard to find young people in Hue who still insist on this luxurious toy of memory.

Every time meeting them, I recall the famous saying of the American photographer Aaron Siskind (1903-1991): "Photography is a way to feel and to love. It preserves trivial things which remain after everything is forgotten."

Almost forgotten

Not until meeting the group of young people in Hue who take photos with film cameras did we fully understand their passion. "There was a time when it seemed to be forgotten, but there are still people who want to preserve their memories with film cameras. Film photography produces real-life photos with their own distinctive depth and colors, unlike modern photography," said Phan Lan (aged 28, Nguyen Sinh Cung St., Hue City) who has taken photographs with his film camera for about two years.

Things were not easy on the first days, from choosing the camera and the film type, how to fix the camera and preserve film, how to shoot and to develop. Gradually Lan realizes film photography is an art which requires lots of patience. Some people were even discouraged and returned to the digital camera.

"To obtain a lively and natural picture, we had to learn how to adjust speed, aperture and to find the appropriate film. Over time, it becomes a passion too attached to leave," said Lan.

Film cameras produce real-life photos with their own distinctive depth and colors, unlike modern photography.

Taking photos with film cameras are full of risks. There are times when one feels embarrassed with innumerable problems. But it is that difficulty that excites the photographer. In addition, the high price and the scarcity of film require the photographer to be cautious and accurate about shooting.

"I feel nervous every time taking a photo. What is more, we are kept suspended until the film is developed. Unlike modern digital cameras which allow continuous shooting with anti-vibration effects, one cannot recapture a certain moment with film cameras. "All depend on feelings," said Nguyen Dinh Chien, a Konica C35 photographer.

With many years of experience in film photography, Chien recognizes film cameras also challenge people's creativity. It requires time and continuous efforts in order to obtain distinctive photos.

Technology of the past

The existence of the large group of young people in Hue using film cameras on Facebook indicates that film photography is not dead. We can see on websites many comments, photo exchanges recalling the previous decades. They also exchange once-famous camera brands such as Canon AE-1, Leica M3, Nikon F3, Pentax K-1000, Konica C35, etc. or film rolls no longer produced.

Children playing by the river, taken with a film camera.

The truth is obtaining a film camera and film rolls is not too difficult. They may be rather rare in Hue, but they can be bought in other cities at reasonable prices. Depending on what the photographer wants to take, he has to change the film type with different ASA (i.e. ISO of digital cameras.) Each colored film roll (26-34 shots) costs approximately VND 100.000 while black and white, VND 100.000-300.000.

But the most difficult thing for those who use fim cameras is film developing since no shops in Hue do it now. They thus have to send them to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City instead.

"It's sort of addiction despite long distances. Film is developed at the cost of VND 20.000-30.000 per roll. Particularly, black and white film has to be hand-made so it costs a bit more, VND 100.000 per roll," said Chien. Also, the shop can scan photos and save them as digital photos upon request.

According to the young film photographers, the photos can last for about two years and start to fade away. They must be kept in dry places without direct sunlight. 

Memory-provoking photos with distinctive colors

"We love film cameras just as we love our lovers. Though belonging to the technology of the past, its value remains. Photos taken with film cameras show the color of time and memory," said Nhat Quang (aged 26, from Hue) who has taken up the passion for two years.

Story: Phan Thanh

Photos: Nguyen Dinh Chien