In 2018. “Taking a photograph” has been made, literally, into child’s play; give any child today over the age of 4 or 5 and they can probably take a picture using an iPhone. They can apply some filters and folk wow with amazement at their child’s accomplishment, and granny proudly reports how proud she is of her “clever grandchild”.
I sound cynical I know, but lets get real. This is just the 2018 version of the little APS point and shoots with a boosting hand from modern technology. There’s still no creative vision going on now as there wasn’t in the 1980’s. It’s simply pressing a button now, and it was pressing a button then. The technology in an iPhone makes the picture better, in terms of auto-exposure calculations and so on, but 9 times out of 10, the pictures are no more creatively forseen now as they were then.
So in recent times my son, now aged 7, has taken quite an interest in my peculiar (by 2018 standards) passion for “big heavy cameras” that “take ages to get the pictures out of”. But after several discussions he seems to be coming around to my way of thinking. So a few months ago I introduced him to my Olympus OM10. The very same OM10 that my Dad got me back in the 1980’s after my enthusiasm for photography started to grow. Naturally, I didn’t load it with film straight away; I’m not a madman! I sat him down and explained the basics of the camera….viewfinder, manual focus, and exposure reading. I didn’t explain the f stops to begin with, but I got him to walk around, looking through the viewfinder and noting how the red dot rose and fell as it got lighter and darker. After a while I explained to him that those numbers relate to the speed that the lens opens and closes, and that generally speaking, the higher the number the better, until it gets to 1/1000th, at which point I explained not to take the photo. Likewise for when the red dot got below 1/30th.
As he started to grasp focus and shutter speed concepts, I then explained how increasing or decreasing the f stop can help bring the red dot from over 1/1000th to below it, and likewise for when it falls below 1/30th.
Our lessons expanded day by day. And after only a few days, he was fairly accomplished at using it. So we loaded a roll of film through it for him. Obviously the first roll was a bit of burner but 3 or 4 rolls later, he was really quite good with it. What’s more is that he ENJOYS using it, and that is the magic. He has learned the correlation between light, subject matter, reflectance, shutter speed and manual focus. He now comes with me whenver he can to take photographs with me. Or, to use his words, “can we go camering tomorrow Dad?”. What a time to be alive. Does your child use and prefer a film camera over an iPhone? If so, comment below. Lets gets our next generation captured by the magic of shooting film. They are the future of the craft. Don’t let these valuable skills die.