OK, so, as frequent readers will know, some months ago I began trying to use my camera on work related trips more often. I’m a regular visitor to London, usually for a night at least, and I figured that with the city looking so special at night I may as well try and use the Hasselblad to capture some great nighttime cityscape scenes. It spawned what has become The London Series.
So during one of these trips I headed over to the south bank of the River Thames and photographed the cityline that I could see on the other side, just along from Tower Bridge. I used Kodak Tri-X 400 and shot it at EI1600. When I got home I developed it and scanned it, along with several other shots. I was quite delighted with one of the pictures in particular.
A few weeks later, I noticed that the UK based photography shop ‘Analogue Wonderland‘, who specialise in film photography and who I happen to follow on Instagram and Facebook (and who I recently bought a new development tank from), had launched a contest called “The Low Light Magic Competition” in partnership with the Goliath of film, Kodak Alaris. On offer for the two lucky grand prize winners was a goodie bag of film.
Now, I see photography contests launched here and there all the time and I never give them the time of day. Why? Because they are almost always inundated with digital photos that have to been pin sharp, high contrast, sterile images, and artistic film works seldom seems to get a mention. However, this competition had something special – it HAD to have been taken using Kodak film.
In addition, I am not the wealthiest of individuals and fresh film is dam expensive. DOn’t get me wrong – I’m not on the verge of becoming homeless, but like many middle aged guys, I have kids, mortgages, and wives to maintain! And so spending £60 on some rolls of Ektachrome is often seen as a poor use of cash by the family! And I hate all the “expired film art” as well (no offence, expired film fans); if I’m taking photos, I want the best and freshest film I can get. Kodak TriX, Kodak T-Max, Kodak Ektachrome, Kodak Portra 400. I have no time to risk ruining what might have been a magical shot and a special, rare, day out with my camera by having the result come out “interesting” (i.e. magenta cast or something). So no expired film for me for a £ less than fresh. Everything is bought fresh and frozen in my freezer, even if I intend to shoot it in a weeks time (also, pro films tend to have shorter shelf lives than some of the cheaper lines). So, the allure of a bag of film from Kodak, of all people, was too much for me to pass by. And I wanted to support Analogue Wonderland who are more than just a photography business. You can tell they love what they do; they love making it possible for photographers who use film to do their thing, they invest time into the community aspect of film photographers and I really like that about them. It is rare to see in business these days. It’s why they are one of very few businesses who I follow on Instagram and Facebook, because I am genuinely interested in what they do, what they are offering, and their market news.
So, going back to my London By Night picture, I thought I might as well throw my hat with that, and one other shot I took of a local Christmas bar. Both were shot on Kodak Tri-X 400, and both were really rather nice.
Like most of us, I’m not arrogant enough to assume my photography will outshine any others, so I didn’t give the competition much thought between submission and the results reveal this past Friday. And in the meantime, my trips to London continued and I added a few more nice shots to The London Series.
And then last Friday came. The evening before, I had noticed Analogue Wonderland mention on their Facebook page that they were editing the results video, so I was interested to see what pictures they would pick. Still not even considering at this stage that my picture would get a mention. Then the winners reveal video comes up on my social media stream after I got home from work. So while I was sipping on a mug of coffee, I thought I’d give it a watch.
They had shortlisted 10 entries (the two grand prize winners, and 8 additional pictures that were so good they felt it unjust not to mention them, quite rightly because they were outstanding) and they started to go through them with Graeme from the Sunny 16 podcast, the Andy who is the Kodak Alaris UK representative, and Paul who is part of the Analogue Wonderland team. They got through the 8 worthy mentions. I was not one of them. 🙁 And then they began the two grand prize winning entries.
Well, would you Adam & Eve it (believe it), but I was one of them!!! I was literally bowled over. Whilst I thought my entry was a nice picture, I genuinely never thought professionals like that would have considered my picture the best of two from over 500 entries! I was humbled and flattered in equal measure. An amazing experience for any photographer and one I won’t forget. I gathered my wife and kids round to watch the video and they all couldn’t believe it either. What a wonderful way to end the week. What a wonderful time to be alive.
I don’t know if any of the event organisers will read this but if they do, thank you so much. Thank you for supporting film photographers with your continued investment in film stock production, the release of new film stocks, and for those people like Analogue Wonderland who help make it available to all of us.
Keep shooting film. Keep Film Alive. It’s amazing.