First Roll of Film Ever is one of my ongoing 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.
Today's story is from Criztoz Crizto.
1. When did you first get into film photography?
"I'm a "70's baby, early 80's child" as the Nightmares on Wax song goes so when I first starting taking photos in my early teens it was all film as digital cameras had not yet been invented. I loved taking photos and would always have my camera with me wherever I went. When I got my own place I used to print off all my rolls and stick the pictures up on a large wall in my flat which friends would then spend hours trying to find themselves in and reminisce about old times. Eventually like most other people in the early noughties I progressed to digital cameras and left film photography behind.
Around 2009 I was considering buying a DSLR as I had only ever owned digital point and shoots. I got in touch with a friend of mine called James Taylor for some advice on which camera to buy. He gave me some advice but also told me that he had started using analogue cameras again and getting slide film cross processed. I checked out his images on his Flickr page and fell in love immediately with the bright punchy colours. He gave me some advice about what type of film cameras to get and the different types of slide film available and my second adventure with film photography began."
2. What was the first film camera and which kind of film did you use?
"Following James' advice I went straight onto eBay and found an almost mint condition Olympus XA2 for about £40 which I still own and use regularly. It had been recommended to me on the basis that it has a great lens, is compact and produces well focused images. I loaded this up with a roll of Kodak Elitechrome 100, which to this day remains my favourite film to cross process, and I waited for a nice sunny day to go out shooting."
3. How did you spend the entire roll? Where did you shoot?
"It was Father's Day so my wife and I took our respective families to Herstmonceux castle in East Sussex, UK as there was an antiques fair and sculpture exhibition in the castle grounds. I wandered around taking photos of anything that took my eye and in particular the castle, children's amusement rides, sculptures and the stalls. It was strange shooting with film again as I was looking through a viewfinder rather than at an LCD screen in order to frame my shots. Also for the first few shots I kept looking at the back of the camera and then realising there was in fact no image there for me to see! I was keen to get the roll developed so made sure that I shot the whole roll before we left."
4. How was your first roll? When you saw the outcomes, what was the feeling like?
"I couldn't wait to see the outcome of my roll so I took it straight down to ASDA the same day and asked them to cross process my film. They warned me that it may not work and could damage the film but I said that I accepted responsibility for this. James had told me that they cross processed his films there all the time so I wasn't that worried.
I spent the next hour impatiently wandering around the shops imagining what the images would be like. I returned early hoping they would be ready and collected my CD of scans and even just from the index print I could see that they had all come out and there was some great bright colours. I was so excited and rushed home to examine the images more carefully on the computer. I was blown away by the images as they were so different to my digital images in terms of the colours, tones and textures that had been captured. They were also very different to my old analogue images due to the cross processing. In particular I was most impressed by the texture of the stone sculptures as this was something that hadn't been captured on any of the digital images I had taken that day. I was hooked and couldn't wait to get out there shooting again."
5. After taking your first roll ever, what did you keep in mind for your next rolls?
"During the day I had taken some photos of my family and found that the tones of their skin simply looked unnatural to me when the film was cross processed. I therefore decided that it would be better in future to use standard c-41 or black and white film for portraits or when taking photos of people. As a roll of film is limited to 24 or 36 exposures, I also learnt that I had to be more discerning and take more time in framing each shot as unlike digital I wouldn't be able to take lots of shots of the same subject and then simply choose the best one later."