On the way to somewhere, some while ago, we stopped at a little village some place for lunch. The details might not have evaded me if I’d scanned and tagged the negatives, rather than printing them out in the darkroom. But those details are not the point.
We found a table in an empty corner and while I set Vlad up Ron went to the bar to order me a pint of hoppy ale and some lunch. The place was half-empty with plenty of nooks and crannies for people to sit.
A woman in a taffeta skirt swept in with her handbag-sized hound. She peremptorily kissed her friend on both cheeks and sat down to ponder over whether to plump for the aged venison or the spatchcocked bird. I tasted my hoppy ale, set it on an adjacent table and lined up my shot.
A family appeared, traipsing through to sit in one of the nooks or the crannies, followed by a German couple who paused to mutter “schön,” and point at Vlad. The taffeta’d lady gave us an angry glance, affronted that her pocket-sized pooch had been put into the shade by a lump of metal and glass.
We ate locally sourced sandwiched and hand-cut chips, supped up the dregs of our golden hop-laden ale and wandered out via the nooks and the crannies.
Outside I met an old boy, one of the locals who’d stepped outside for a smoking break. His eyes lit up when he saw my camera. “Is that a Mamiya?” he asked. We started a conversation about old film cameras. He told me about his Rolleiflex, his old darkroom, long gone, and his boxes of unused black and white film. He asked me where he could get it developed and I tried to help. If I’d lived nearby I’d probably have offered to do it for him.
I know that film is becoming tinged with “vintage” cool, but I don’t really care about that. It’s never been why I shoot film. I put up with the delay – I embrace the delayed gratification. But I do care that people are coming back to it, that people who’ve never used film before are picking up vintage cameras that will take them on a journey as far as they are prepared to go.
And I have yet to meet anyone who had their own darkroom or did their own developing back in the day and tells me all about it without a hint of sadness in their eye.