Black & White 35mm film

“Black and white are the colors [sic] of photography. To me they symbolise the alternatives of hope and despair to which mankind is forever subjected.” - A quote by Robert Frank, a street photographer and film-maker who is most known for his photographic work “The Americans” (1958).

In my very first term of university, we were not only made to shoot solely on film cameras, but to shoot only with black and white film. This was to ensure we thought not only about form whilst shooting, but tonal range as well. When there is no pop of strong colour to dominate the frame, how can you make it so that your photograph is still interesting? How can you communicate what you are trying to say when there aren’t the connotations of
certain colours to speak for you?

Black and white photography is usually now an afterthought in the world of digital photography - have one
version in colour and then try black and white as a second alternative.

However in my opinion, black and white offers a timeless, classy aesthetic that really changes how people interact with the photograph, often creating potent emotion (hence why it is used so often in wedding photography). It is also used in fine art to create a certain distance from the image to the viewer, as we don’t see our world in B&W, we approach the images (or paintings) differently and I believe it encourages us to think perhaps more about what it is saying rather than what it is.

I am just about to put in an order for more B&W 35mm film, and I encourage you to do the same! Trust me, if you take photographs of your friends in black and white film, print them off and put them in a photo album, you will be thanking me 10 years down the line when you look back on them, and you all look even more elegant than you even remember! (Even if you are in your pyjamas!).

Even if you don’t own or don’t know how to use an analogue camera, Boots sell a disposable (27 exposures) for £10 which you can take to any day out at the park/party/family gathering:!)%20Boots%20Shopping%20-%20Category%20-%20Photo-_-(GB:Whoop!)%20Boots%20Shopping%20-%20Category%20-%20Photo&product=10193172&gclid=Cj0KCQjwhrzLBRC3ARIsAPmhsnVdKmt6k3HmrTUcr8N-y0GvQwSzxFwKN_PrqF0WhiycnLOLNUnPWQYaAokKEALw_wcB

The photographs I have put up here are just (very) random selections from first year. They are not meant to be anything special, but I do like how they seem to immortalise memories from 2 years ago. 

Work Placement

As a part of a module in my university curriculum, I had to do 1-2 weeks of work experience/placement. This creates an opportunity to put something relevant on our CV’s to appeal to future employers, as well as teaching us important lessons and tricks of the trade that simply cannot be taught sat down in a seminar. 

I was very nervous about this part of the course, as some of you may know yourselves, university can create this strange bubble around you - it’s mimicking aspects of real life whilst being far from it. This was stepping back into the unknown and become “professional” (daunting, after basically creating your own schedule and only wearing oversized flannel shirts). 

However, in all honestly, I wish I didn’t waste my time worrying. I felt as though my week couldn’t have gone any better. The two gentlemen I worked with were friendly, professional, kind, patient, and would not hesitate to spare more and more of their time to teach me any tips or knowledge they had gained through their 15 years of experience each. 

I was treated to assisting or photographing various different jobs, and met a range of people, clients and students along the way. I went to such a variety of different locations there really wasn’t a dull moment. 

It was a great opportunity and I am hopeful to take the skills I learnt forward into my future as a photographer. 

No faces just food: Portra 160 35mm Film

Instagram continues to hold the top spot of one of the most favourable social media apps. After all, it has started and funded businesses, created public figures, not abolished sexism… ahem ANYWAY

Although I do use it to show my photography to my modest bundle of 500ish followers, I mainly use it to aid my visual inspiration in terms of photographic work by other artists. Some of these are just starting their career, some are freelance, some are content creators for instagram itself, some work for vogue - variety has said to be the spice of life. 

I came across a few discussions about Portra film, part of the Kodak family and used mainly for portraits, (hence the name?). This is something I had seen used across the spectrum of the different photographers I follow. It said to be “extremly fine grain” and perfect in created that faded, pretty pastel portrait.

20 minutes later, I was placing an order for 5xrolls of 36 exposure 35mm Portra 160 film. A treat, and one I could certainly justify as I proceeded to begin yet another university project. With the deal I found on amazon, it’s only a smudge pricier than other films, so really, there was no debating. 

So, here is my first shoot using it. And what do I think?

Well, this is a hard one. As I scanned in my negatives and watched the photographs pop up on my screen, I was actually quite disappointed. I thought I was going to gasp and be blown away at the beauty in front of me, and
really, I just felt as if they were kind of lacklustre. 


I took boring pictures of food (I had to do a preliminary shoot surrounding food/drink and it’s placement in the still life sector of fine art) (yeah… exactly). I took them on a day the garden was bathed in stark, white sunlight - a factor I believe adds to the washed-out look of some of them. It even says on the box “For EXCEPTIONAL skin tones” - hint hint, this is a film for faces! 

I sent away for prints after heavily fiddling around in photoshop with curves, saturation and even HSL adjust. (The ones I am showing here are 100% edit free).

After leaving it a few days and coming back, I am far more fond of the results. They have an effortlessly nostalgic tone, a smooth, classy vintage feel. I don’t blame the film - I blame myself as a photographer. I should have known to have picked a film the specialises in vibrant tones, if that was the look I was after. Why would I use a film that was good for faces, on food? They are two completely different subject matters, and just because Portra can make a face look beautiful, doesn’t mean it can do the same for a fried egg. 

Viewing them now, I feel as if I am looking at photographs taken 20 years ago on a relatives trusty camera of the time. Except… they probably were taking pictures of their friends on holiday… not random things on a paper plate on grass! 

Overall, my enthusiasm and excitement for this film has NOT diminished, and I am looking forward to rounding my friends up to take pictures of them on Portra, instead.

(Results to follow!)

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