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Today’s piece comes from my good friend Phil Schiller. Phil writes about the first day he got his hands on a camera and how he made the quick and swift progression into shooting film. Although his experience in photography in general may be limited, he tells us how shooting film has quickly made him realize why and what he loves about the craft and process of photography.
April the 2nd, Written by Phil Schiller (Instagram)
April 2, 2016
That was the day when I finally got my hands on what I would consider to be a real camera. Before that day, the iPhone was as far as I had got into photography.
Fast forward to April 2nd 2016.
My boss let me borrow a Nikon D200 for a while. I expressed to him that I’ve been looking to get myself an actual camera, so he graciously lent me his. I remember when he gave it to me, I had literally zero idea of what I had just gotten myself into. I’ve never been a patient person by any means, and this definitely tested that. I would look on various Flickr pages, Instagram accounts, etc. and see people’s results and it would simply frustrate me. I finally decided that I wanted to actually sit down, do the research and force myself to learn the basics of photography. Finally, understanding aperture, ISO, and exposing my subject properly; I began seeing actual progress. I’ll never forget when I took a photo of my roommate working on a project. I snapped the photo and looked down at the camera to see the final result and it make me geek.
From then on out, I’ve been so lucky to have friends that have already been in the field of image creation, most notably, Katy Konsulis. She was the number one person to teach me not only do you need to know how to operate a camera, but to feel what you’re actually shooting. I can’t express enough how grateful I am for her guidance and knowledge. She’d always ask me “Do you love this?”
At the time, I sort of overanalyzed that. It made me in a way, reconsider what I’m actually striving for in photography. Which in turn, made me realize that all I want is to love the images and the experiences that bring me there. You can be using the best equipment in the world and think that this is it. You’ve found that true happiness that you feel produces the best quality. However, in my opinion, it doesn’t matter what you use to create an image; just make sure it gets you stoked.
After the D200, and gaining as much knowledge and experience from that camera, I knew what I wanted. I saved up and bought myself a Fuji x100T. Before I plunged and got the T, I gained a lot of interest in street photography. Mainly from watching YouTube channels like Pablo Strong and Negative Feedback. I knew I wanted to give it a shot, so I took the D200, went out of my comfort zone and drove to Downtown Tampa. Being out in that environment was breath of fresh air and super enlightening. I immediately fell in love and I knew what I needed. That’s when and why I bought the x100T. I wanted something fast, quiet, and could produce images without having to think about setting up your camera for an image. This camera, will forever be one of my favorite cameras. I never thought a piece of equipment could train you like the x100T did. It opened my eyes in a completely different way. The Fuji gave me that and so much more.
I started gaining more confidence with photo making and being my own individual when it came to shooting. I even got the opportunity to put up physical work in the coffee shop I work at. This was insane to me at the time. Actually seeing my photos in physical form for others to see. That’s a feeling I don’t think I’ll ever forget. I have to give the Fuji so much credit, because it taught me what I actually wanted. It made me realize that it’s okay to only be a hobbyist. It made me happy, and that’s all that mattered. It also made me realize that the T was not my end all. I was getting to the point where I was just shooting to shoot. In hopes that I’d snag at least one good photo from that session. At the time, it bummed me out and curbed my drive to go out and shoot. I knew I needed a change. That’s when the latest stage of my photography journey came together.
In February earlier this year, I had the opportunity to go to Portland and Seattle for a week with the company I work for. I haven’t traveled much in my life, so this was actually a huge deal in my book. For one, I actually get to check out the west coast coffee scene and most importantly, I was so stoked to take my camera with me to freeze those moments in time.
I thought to myself, I’m truly excited to record my experiences over there but I wanted to do it in a different way. I wanted to take photos that actually capture the environment and the feel of what I was feeling. I wanted to shoot film. The dude that has graciously allowed to me tell my story on this blog, Dylan, let me have a Canon SureShot 35 and a roll of Arista 400. It may seem like a simple point & shoot, but right when I loaded the film up, I knew that this was different. I knew I had to revert back to how I originally took photos and to shoot what I feel. I did that exact thing and it was the best experience of my life to date. When Dylan gave my the link to my scans I was so unbelievably stoked. I don’t think I’ve felt that feeling.. perhaps ever? Seeing what you captured weeks later and remembering that exact moment and how it made you feel. That was an amazing experience.
I knew I was hooked. The film bug was in full effect and I sold my x100T.
About a month ago, I finally picked up a new film camera. I bought a Contax G1. When I was researching what I wanted in a camera, I knew I wanted sharpness and reliability. Everywhere I read, the G series is hailed as some of the best cameras do date, for good reason too. Zeiss glass. The competitor to Leica’s glass. I was lucky enough to find a killer deal on a G1 with the Planar 45mm T. Once it arrived in the mail, I knew this was it. I immediately loaded a roll in, and went out shooting. While I was shooting the G, it made me realize how of a wildly different experience it was than shooting with any camera I had shot before it. I shot what I felt and that’s all I did. I just recently got back my first three rolls from Dylan and I’m so excited to keep diving deeper into film. Seeing and feeling the environment of what this camera produces is enlightening and produces such a different feel that I honestly cannot put into words. All I know is I was looking for more realism, more challenge, more emotion.
I found it and I’m not letting go.