The magic of manual creation

Louis Mellini

I’ve mentioned it before, probably a million times at this point.

The world is constantly moving more and more into a digital and automated age when it comes to art.
That’s not always a bad thing.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of benefits that come with making things easier.
But, when it comes to art, specifically for me regarding photography and film, I think we sometimes rob ourselves of a unique experience.
I started fooling around with cameras when I was about 16.
My grandmother, father and uncle all worked in the television or production industry at some point in their lives, so I guess it was something I was bound to become interested in.
But, when I started picking up cameras and taking pictures, I wasn’t really learning anything. I was just letting all the automatic point-and-shoot settings on the camera do the work.
It was starting to become an empty experience for me, there was no magic to what I was doing. Nothing is fun about letting a computer do all of the thinking for you.
So, when I really wanted to get serious about filmmaking and photography, I decided to get into film photography.
I knew that if I really wanted to learn the ins-and-outs of doing what I was passionate about, I had to force myself to learn without the aid of the automatic nature of modern cameras.
The first camera I bought was a Canon AE-1 Program, it was sold around 1985.
While the camera did have an automatic setting available, I never used it, and I’m definitely better off for it.
I won’t bore you all with tons of photo-related jargon, but I quickly fell in love with shooting on film.
Now film is certainly an expensive and unforgiving adventure at times.
To start, you have no idea if what you’re shooting is going to look good or not until you get the film developed.
That’s the part that shakes the nerves.
When I started I was shooting solely trusting my eyes, no room for mess-ups and no do-overs.
I remember getting my first roll developed and anxiously waiting to see what the results were.
I’ve been doing this for a few years now and honestly, I still get nervous.
My first roll came back and it was like Christmas. Seeing all of the pictures I had taken without the aid of automatic settings just felt so rewarding to me.
I really felt like I was creating something.
I guess I never really felt like that when I was shooting on all those point-and-shoot cameras.
After I got used to using a camera without all of those aids, it made using the more automatic cameras a breeze to use.
I work with The Ramp in Hamilton filming during conferences and I love using the cameras we have, they’re truly great.
But, when it comes down to it, I really just love using manual film cameras.
The quality isn’t always better, it’s more of a feeling it gives me more than quality of image.
There’s something about loading in the film and getting it sent off to be developed once I’m done.
The wait to see the results a few days after I send the film is still really exciting to me.
There’s just this tangible feeling that film gives that I just don’t get when I’m using something more automatic.
Now, I will say this, buying film and getting it processed is incredibly expensive compared to using digital cameras.
But, to be honest, it is absolutely a price I’m willing to pay.