A black and white film community

Since film is no longer the primary domain of professionals, it’s been adopted again in earnest by passionate individuals that produce legitimate work. In this age of instant gratification, infinite dynamic range, and auto-everything, it’s nice to rely on a predictable and high-quality medium.

I shoot HP5+ almost exclusively. It’s everything I want in a black and white film. It’s flexible, widely available and fits right into my workflow. I’ve played both sides of the line, and I’m now a very happy film-shooting hobbyist after a professional career that straddled the awkward digital infancy. The thing that strikes me time and again about this modern age are the people brought together through technology to celebrate shared interests. Social media is a double-edged sword, and it’s only as good as the users providing input.

More real-time than discussion forums (and significantly less caustic), groups have sprung up all over the globe. Some local and many international, here people celebrate the gear, process and share the images we make. It’s groups like this that keep film photography alive and thriving. The exchange of ideas, advice and praise has made the internet into the world’s largest photography school drawing on the best and worst on offer. Like in life, choose your friends carefully.

Black and white medium format film image shot =on Ilford HP5+ with a Rolleiflex by Matthew Thompson


The support, friendship and shared knowledge in my small circle of photographers on Twitter is invaluable. I’ve been able to help others, provide real critique and ask the same in return. It’s a camaraderie I haven’t felt since my college days when everyone was at school because they loved photography, plain and simple. There wasn’t any professional contempt, no quiet desire to see your colleagues out of business or miss out on a job.

One of the things I hated about shooting for a living was the distinct lack of support from others in the industry. Even in my small city, there was no advice, referrals or even trench kinship from other working pros. Every man for himself makes none of us any better at what we do. Since I’ve stopped putting a price-tag on my time and have invested in myself, I’m producing important work that I’m proud of on a media I believe in, sharing with people who care not just about themselves. What I was missing all along is community, and that has made all the difference.

Thanks to engagement from producers like Ilford’s Social Media team, #believeinfilm (among others) and grassroots photo walks, we have a place to enjoy the work of our peers, share ideas and grow friendships. Thanks, and keep making that HP5!

Black and white medium format film image shot =on Ilford HP5+ with a Rolleiflex by Matthew Thompson

All images ©Matthew Thompson