My Dad’s Old Camera

 

During my childhood my dad would take photographs of our family with his heavy, black SLR camera, carried on a strap around his neck with a strange pattern in black, orange and purple colours. I remember having my photograph taken with it on holidays to Greece and Sweden; having to stop in random places when he had found a beetle he wanted to photograph and the blurry prints of the shiny beetles when they came back from the photo lab; sitting down on a low wall near a beach in Greece, smiling back at the camera as we posed for him.

So when I told my dad that I had started using disposable cameras and that I wanted to learn how to shoot film, he went down in our basement when I was home in September and he dug up that camera and told me I could have it, just like that. Like most of us, he always uses his digital camera or his phone these days.

In all those childhood years I never imagined I would one day be taking photos with that camera myself because I didn’t yet know it was something I would one day love doing. So it felt very special and also a little bit intimidating to pick it up the first time. What if I put the film in wrong and ruined the entire roll? What if all the pictures would come out blurry because I’m not used to manual focus but always rely on automatic?

 

From a cold walk in a local wood on a quiet sunday after the snow had fallen.

 

I really didn’t know what I was doing when I first started using the camera. Every time I took a photo I was scared that something would go wrong and to be honest, I still am. Because unlike digital you just don’t know until you see the negatives or the prints, and by that time it’s too late and whatever you wanted to photograph is long gone. For the past few months I have hardly picked up my digital camera but have fumbled my way towards getting to know my dad’s old camera and I’m slowly starting to become familiar with how it works.

Learning from experience, I told myself to not be too dissapointed if the entire roll of film turned out to be ruined. I declared that if I had just ONE good photograph I would be happy but that mostly I just wanted to learn something from it. So it was a pretty wonderful and unexpected surprise when my prints arrived and they looked like this.

So here they are with great pride, the prints from my very first roll of colour film taken with my dad’s camera:

 

(for those of you interested in the technical stuff they were taken with a Ricoh KR5 slr with a 50mm lens on Kodak Ultramax 400 35mm film. They were developed and printed by Ag Photographic, who did a super nice and quick job!)

 

Passing by Tivoli Gardens amusement park on our way to do some Christmas shopping on Stroget, the pedestrianised high street in Copenhagen, our first Danish Christmas together captured on film. I love the lights of the city in the cold, dark winters, they make everything feel a little less gloomy.

A quiet courtyard hidden away just off Stroget at twilight just before the light dissapeared for the day.

A reflection of the terrace houses in a lake in my neighbourhood at home, as the sun set and got reflected in both the windows and the water.

The desk where I have been sitting on my own all winter, quietly writing on my novel. I thought that one day I would like to have a photo as a memory of this period in my life.

The view from a hill overlooking a valley after the first snow of the year had fallen, with the town where I live now in the background. I still miss living in London, I think I always will but it can look so beautiful here, too.

I woke up one morning to the most incredible, heavy fog, so I jumped out of bed and stood by my balcony to capture the way the fog had set itself over the trees on the riverbank that runs next to my flat.

The window in my bedroom from the same day I woke up to the heavy fog. It is my ABSOULTE favourite shot of all the ones I took with this camera, cause it’s managed to capture how quiet and still everything looked in that moment.

A rare photo of Daniel from when we were in Copenhagen together over Christmas. Daniel doesn’t let me take photos of him very often, so I am very happy he let me take this one and afterwards I let him take a photo of me too.

One of the less good shots because I messed up the exposure and the focus but I still quite like it! There is something really atmospheric and moody about it, I think.

I don’t know how to explain it but when I saw the prints I felt like I had found the camera that had always been meant for me. My dad’s camera, which is slowly starting to feel like mine, captures what I see when I look at something; how I see it. I love the grain of the film and it’s making me take more photographs of the everyday moments in my life that I wouldn’t normally have thought of photograping.

It’s also taught me something really valuable about being creative. New beginnings are scary but jump right into it anyway and try new things. You might end up discovering that the thing you were intimidated about wasn’t so scary after all. Actually, maybe it made you discover that it was something you were always meant to do. Like shooting film on an old analog camera that your dad once bought in the 80s.

2 Comments

  1. Lea
    May 9, 2017 / 9:48 am

    Thank you so much and for reading the post! I’m quite fond of the desk picture, too, maybe because the subject already feels precious and nostalgic to me. I agree, I think ag did such a great job at bringing out what I saw in those photos.

  2. Eddy
    May 5, 2017 / 4:37 pm

    Lovely pictures and a touching tale. I especially like the snowy landscape (so rich despite being mainly white) and the desk pic / caption. Those fine people at ag did your photos justice.

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