It’s no secret that there has been a resurgence of film photography. Photographers are setting down their DSLRs and dusting off their analog cameras. We’re seeing more and more film photographs in the mainstream and on social media. If you’ve just acquired your first film camera and don’t know where to begin, these five helpful tips will get you started on your way to getting comfortable with film. 

Get To Know Your Camera

Before shooting your analog camera for the first time, try to find a user manual online, or watch some videos outlining the basic functions of the camera. If you’ve purchased your camera second-hand, chances are it’s been used before and will most likely come with its own quirks. It’s common for analog cameras to have light leaks, sticky buttons, corrosion, or a lens that just seems too stiff, so it’s important to run through it and make sure everything is working. 

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Start With Black And White

If you’re hesitant about shooting film for the first time, shooting black and white is a great way to start. Not only is it easier on your wallet, but it will help you understand how your camera renders light and shadows with your shooting settings. This will also be a great opportunity to see how your own shooting style changes when confined to black and white, it might just surprise you!

Have a Photography Log Book

For every image you take, it is good practice to write down what ISO, aperture, and shutter speed it was shot at. Many seasoned photographers still do this today, as it’s a great way to learn from your shooting settings after receiving your scans back from the lab. Keep a notebook and pen in your back pocket every time you carry your camera with you, and your results will improve significantly. 

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Carry a Light Meter

Having a light meter is essential when shooting film. Although many analog cameras have a light meter built-in, you will definitely come across some that don’t. Having a light meter allows you to read your light conditions, instructing you what to shoot at. This is especially helpful for spot metering, which is reading the light at a focused point, and is amazing to use if you’re metering for one stream of light on your subject. If you don’t want to purchase a light meter quite yet, there are some really great light meter smartphone apps that will do a decent job.

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Just Shoot!

The beauty of analog photography is that it’s instinctual. Unlike digital photography, where everything is controlled, analog photography allows for mystery and surprise. Don’t think too hard about shooting the perfect image and just have fun. Embrace the mistakes and imperfections, and you’ll learn to love the process very quickly. 

Luriko Yamaguchi