A few years ago I decided to bite the bullet and get my mother’s old Rollei reconditioned. I had recently read an article about another photographer’s new found love for film, and by halfway through the article, I was drinking the Kool-Aid. Heck, I was so seduced by the notion of being strictly a “film shooter” that I debated the idea of scrapping my entire digital life. However, Staci talked me off the analog cliff and assured me that there was nothing wrong with my process. She reminded me that whatever helped me create my vision was most important and digital wasn’t the enemy. I knew she was probably right, but I’m not one to listen the first time around. 🙂
A month later, the Rollei arrived freshly reconditioned and neatly packed in bubble wrap. I quickly tore through the wrapping and headed to Calumet to get film for my new analog passion. After watching countless Youtube videos on how to load the darn thing (I had never shot with a Rollei before) I neatly placed the camera on the deck rail with a roll of film beside it and took a photo with my digital for posterity. And that’s where the story ended for nearly two years. I never shot one frame of film with the Rollei. Simply put, I had become drunk with the notion that a “legitimate” photographer knows how to use film, but I had never come to terms with what was a worthy subject for these twelve frames. Paralysis of analysis had set in and with it the camera sat. By the time I sobered up, I realized I had spent nearly $275.00 to recondition my camera and another $15.00 on film but didn’t have one single image to show for it. I got busy with work, my family, and the Rollei went back to it’s resting place on the bookshelves huddling between my many books on film photography.
Two years later, on a whim, I decided to take the Rollei with me to Montana for my fall photo road trip. This time I had nothing to prove, no real plan; I just wanted to have fun and use the film before it expired past the point of no return. I will admit, shooting with the Rollei slowed me down and frankly nearly made me nauseous dealing with the parallax and trying to frame things properly. It was maddening not to be able to have instant feedback on an LCD. But, halfway through the roll I stopped fretting about the “need” to get it right and started just having fun. I gave myself permission to fail. I said to myself, “John you’re a photographer and it doesn’t matter if it’s film, digital, or a darn polaroid. What matters is you’re giving it a shot and probably giving mom a good laugh along the way.”
A month later, I received my scans and I was pleasantly surprised to see 12 images. Not a single one was all black or all white. Were they all good? Heck no! But, I had twelve images which was a heck of a lot more than I had two years ago. The process was slow and somewhat expensive (on a per frame basis), but the experience was invaluable.