What I Learned So Far Shooting Portraits In Analog, Or Shooting In Analog In General

Buying my Canon AE-1 was pure luck and completely out of impulse. Well, it was thanks to my ex that I have it in my possession. Without her, I would be wielding a now-dead Nikon RD2. (I honestly have no idea why it’s not working. Maybe it’s the battery?)

I did have to get a new battery for the AE-1, which I easily bought on Amazon.

I experimented with color film, but since I had a DSLR, I thought I’d take black and white photos on analog. I bought a 10-pack of Kodak Tri-x400 and I’ve been extremely happy with how the photos have come out.

model: @bridgethattie_

Of course, the path getting to this point hasn’t been completely free of errors.



In fact, I only recently discovered (or actually read a manual online) on how to change the ISO on my AE-1. That’s one thing I’ve learned: read the damn manual.

Before that, I was clueless on how to replace a film roll without destroying it in the process. I didn’t know there was a button on the bottom to release the spools!

Once, I took photos without ever realizing the film I put in never was installed properly. This mean I wasted an entire day thinking I was taking photos.

I still have problems with managing the camera, whether it be focusing on the subject properly, or taking unnecessary shots, and a myriad of other things too dumb to speak of.

But that’s how you get better, right? Practice. And spend a lot of money on developing the film and realizing that you’re going to go broke doing this. But you love how it looks, and you love that you’re still shooting on 35mm film. #staybrokeshootfilm

model: @popualr_

Obviously, taking a brief seminar in photography would’ve helped me out, but I don’t have money or time to do that. I’d love to, believe me. I’d love to go to one of the Bushwick Community Darkroom classes to learn more about analog photography and developing my own film. That would save me time, money, and further my passion. (I think.)

Originally, I was interested in shooting street photography with the black and white film. But now, I’m really interested in doing portraits instead. I think the Kodak Tri-x400, combined with the camera picks up on some subtle nuances the DSLR can’t emulate. Maybe it’s a nostalgia thing?

With portraits, I have to make sure to focus on their eyes a lot more than I’d have to with the DSLR, but it makes the whole process feel more intimate. The models also feel different — their attitude changes when I say I’m shooting in film. It’s a cool process to go through and I think people appreciate film a whole lot more than they do with digital.

I really like that I’m forced to use manual focus. I mean, I could do that on the DSLR, but I’m taking hundreds of photos for one shoot, so it’s a time-saving thing. As for film, I’m limited to 36 shots and that means I have to think about the pose, the framing, the foreground, the background — not that I’m not thinking about those while I’m using a DSLR, it’s just I have far less room for error (and I can’t go back and review the photo after I’ve shot it), so it has to be near-to-perfect to what I’ve envisioned in my head.

On the plus side, if someone steals your image online, you have the negatives and the hard copy as proof that it’s your work (not that this ever would happen).

I can also do double exposure far easily on the AE-1 than I can with my t6i.

double exposure. model: @baby.tina_

After you get the photos developed, scanning them is the hard part. You have to make sure your scanner bed is free of dust. Otherwise, you’re going to scan dust particles along with your photos and you’ll end up with white specks (or strands of hair or fuzz) that might ruin how your photo looks.

model: @kathryntcarter

And make sure you’re scanning at a high DPI! My scanner lets me go up to 2400 pixels/inch. (That made my scans ~50mb on average. And I’d just resize them if I had to upload them anywhere.)

Sure managing photos on a tiny SD card is far easier than lugging around three to four rolls of film at a time. It’s easier to plug your camera into a USB port and transfer over photos and process them in Lightroom in under five minutes…but there’s something magical about film. Once you start it, it’s really hard to let go. And I’m having a really tough time not using my AE-1. It goes where ever I go.

candid shot with @jennyjoslin
(model in featured image: @boufyy)

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