I recently stumbled on a box full of used films that I have taken over the last few years on my old Pentax cameras. I learned how to process negatives and develop prints in the darkroom way back when I was at university in Canterbury. I have tried to keep going with it, but it has been a few years now since I’ve done anything.
I love the idea of all these unseen, forgotten images just waiting to be teased out, moments in my life that are in a sort of limbo, ready to be reclaimed.
We have lost some of the Promethean magic of photography with the arrival of the digital gods – you don’t have the agonising wait when you drop off a film at Boots, or the delight of seeing an image materialise in a developing tray in the darkroom. Magic, I think, is born in anticipation, in the unknown.
In a way it’s a bit of a shame to develop them at all, instead of leaving them for future generations to discover. I like to think of what a stranger would feel if they processed these images – what would they imagine of the lives and scenes that are revealed? There is a sad immortality to a photograph.
My first two films were a bit of a failure. One had nothing on whatsoever, and the second one had only a few very faded images. Unfortunately I think this was from a shoot we did when we lived in a National Trust property, so I think those pictures are now lost forever, and there’s no hope of ever repeating it.
A few of the later films came out a bit better, and here are a few random highlights from the films that did work out.
This film must have been a few years old and came out quite underdeveloped, but I rather like the quality of them. The images of my sister surrounded by flowers remind me vaguely of the Pre-Raphaelite photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, although I may be over-flattering myself!
These were taken on a Lomography Fisheye camera, which was good fun. I’d like to try it again, but rather than taking random shots I kind of feel it needs a project specific to its unique properties. My negative scanner also really struggles to identify the images.
These are some lost images from the Folk Noir shoot featured earlier in this blog.
There are still a few more films to be developed, so hopefully there will be some more old memories soon to be rediscovered.