Sunday, October 13, 2013

Vanda Baumeister's First Roll of Film Ever

First Roll of Film Ever is my newest series right here on Shooting Film. Here, I would be investigating your very first encounter with film: when and how you got into analogue photography, what your first camera was, what film you used, where you spent your first roll, how the actual pictures appeared, what lessons you learned, and how it was like to shoot with film—for the very first time.

On its first episode, we have here, Miss Vanda Baumeister, who went very sentimental with her story. She went back to this little girl telling her romantic tale. She even had her story translated from French to English by a good friend, so all of us could learn about her first roll of film ever. Hope you'll enjoy her story as much as I did!


Vanda shared,

"I come from a very skillful and art-sensitive family.

My father did a lot of sublime black and white photographs when he was younger. We have always been big fans of photography, paintings, drawings… I used to use a digital camera and Polaroid just for fun from 2004 to 2009 but then I stopped when I broke 2 cameras, like it was a sign of destiny.

For some time now, I had been thinking about photography and especially analog photography. Everything I do (drawings, pictures, etc.) is based on the research of colors and it was a new material to try. I had a lot of ideas in mind to create, at least to try to realize… I wasn’t sure about it, I didn’t know what kind of camera to use, I was scared not being able to use a camera again, and above everything else, scared to have ‘lost the eye’.



In April, I met a guy, a photographer. We never dated but we saw each other regularly. It was the kind of relationship when every time we met, we thought it could be the last time. It was an esthetic and even Romanesque relationship. And I don't know why but although I should have been intimidated to challenge that guy, because we have the same artistic sensibility and sense of aestheticism, it helped me to throw myself into it.

For my birthday, I ordered a tiny used camera. I was looking for something small and not too complicated to begin with. I chose an Olympus XA because it’s depicted as THE telemetric to carry with you wherever you go, half automatic etc… Full of advantages for a beginner like me and even my dad gave his approval!

I didn’t told that guy to avoid being under a lot of stress but the package arrived while he was still with me at my house, STRESS! He used the first film on the camera. It’s a precious memory.

I didn’t know how to work with that camera and he just told me “go for it” with no further advice.




We spent a week in the countryside, on the banks of Loire River (Saint Mathurin Sur Loire, 49, France) having picnics, exploring flea markets, drinking rosé wine. It sounds "cliché", right? We were home, far from Paris, just me and this mysterious boy living an idyllic lifestyle.

No need to create a scenery, it was the perfect beginning for some potentially good pictures and if I had to freeze a moment it was this one! I was too shy to try anything, feeling awkward and taking the pictures quickly. On several pictures you can see fingers, some were taken by accident and most of all I didn’t notice there was a problem with the camera.

The next week, I had the films developed. I was a bit skeptical about the quality of the result but excited and thrilled by all the waiting. Maybe that is what I find the most interesting in analog photography: waiting. When I finally saw them I was moved. My very first photographs! They were far from perfect but some of them had the colors and shades that I love so much. I was disappointed to have ruined some of them so stupidly, but the overall result was more than enough.




Maybe I’m too romantic and this film represented more than just photographs; and maybe I’m the only one seeing, in these pictures, all the feelings this relation brought me: not only softness and evidence but also caution, distance and envy.

When I sent some of the pictures to that boy he seemed to be surprised, maybe touched, and he told me to keep up the good work.

After that, I chose to take pictures of my friend Elfie and I had to admit one thing; we take photographs of what we see and not what we’re looking for. We have an expression for that: “the eyes of love”!




That’s what I’ll keep in mind from my first film. Whatever the technical level or quantity of work you put in, a photograph taken with heart and spontaneity is a great photograph which leaves an everlasting impression of a specific moment. And as I just began, I am very happy.

 Days after day, I learned how to adjust my XA but it’s the subject and the feeling that counts more than the camera itself. Sometimes I hold some people back so I can take a picture of them because I felt moved by them. And those are my favorite pictures. But I still hope to create one day some true and beautiful pictures, more technical and colorful."

You can also find Vanda's work on Flickr.

Author's Note: Want to share a story about your first roll of film ever? Email me!

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