How I work

I believe in self-learning, and I’m always up for something new to explore.

I adhere to a strict code of conduct and don’t believe in photoshop, or do much if any post processing. It has to be an exceptional day for me to crop an image.

I use Ilford’s Delta 400 for most of my work and use XP2 Super when I need my results fast.

Changing times

I was born in 1988, which meant that I got a first class ticket to experience the world converting from analogue to digital during my childhood. We would listen to walkmans and rewind tapes with pencils while also figuring out how to use the computer to play our favourite games.

Most consumers owned film cameras and would drop off film for developing after returning from their vacations – getting prints in the process, which they would show their friends and families. People would put them into albums, and possibly store them for decades.

At this time, the internet was just creeping in and where I come from, it was considered a luxury in most households. People weren’t as connected like we are today but on a lower, slower, local level. Paying attention did not mean popping push notifications like bubble wrap.

I remember my classmate getting his first digital camera, and how we took pictures with it in school as 10-11 year olds. Even though the quality of the pictures were non-comparable to what you would get from film, we were still amazed by the new technology.

So what happened to those pictures?

They are gone, most likely. No-one ever printed them, or if they did – it was done with some inkjet printer at home on office paper and it already faded. I have some pictures saved from that time but this is only because I am good with computers and obsessed with creating archives and backups. I never deleted anything, and I kept my backups secure. This requires a lot of effort. It’s not the same as storing negatives or family albums in a safe place.

Wrecking your computer, your hard drive or just deleting pictures and memories to fill your finite digital space with some other meaningless stuff are much more likely to happen than a flood in your basement or a fire at your house.

Over the course of 27 years, I had numerous people asking me to recover their personal data – and in most cases it was an impossible task. My heart bled for these people and their pictures, but it just seemed like they didn’t care that much. Most people’s hard drives’ gone bust or formatted thanks to various problems, dvds went to trash, phones changed, memory cards thrown away.

Photography changed, the world changed, and everything else changed around us – without some of us even noticing it.

I think today the process of creating physical pictures is still flawed.

It was not until the end of the 2000s that everyone had their smartphones attached to their bodies. There came another level of being connected, and as phones turned out to be decent cameras, we further migrated to the digital world, immersed ourselves deep in the fairytale. We share pictures, upload them to the cloud, but still struggle to find a picture from Gary’s wedding the last year. This is not a bad thing. But something is missing.

You come back from an interesting trip and you show your pictures on your iPad to your friends and they will scroll around madly (hopefully you have a gap between two push notifications so they can keep attention), finishing hundreds of pictures equal to tens of rolls of film in minutes.

In my opinion, the whole conversion process demolished our ties to each other, and the world itself. It’s like brainwashing. When was the last time you read a book, listened to a whole album or really paid attention?

Did it happen to you that you posted a film photograph somewhere and got asked for ‘EXIF’ data?

Why I am writing about this? There’s a big deal in disconnecting yourself from the Matrix. Just pulling the plug. For me, pulling this plug was the key for maintaining my mental health. It’s just impossible to process the magnitude of data that is thrown at us every day, hour, minute and second. It was interesting for the first few years, but for me, it’s just annoying now. Technology and it’s abusers would harass you at work, home, or anywhere else.  You either run or get used to it.

Some of course manage, but we all got our brains re-wired in the process to watch maximum 2 minute long videos and take 10000 pictures on memory cards.

I had to escape from all this noise. I was lucky, I guess.Black on white photo of Budapest shot on Ilford film

There was a camera shop just next to my workplace, and I would always walk past it every time we went out for lunch. One day I saw a camera in the storefront, and I found it beautiful. I would look at it every day we went for lunch then would return to my workplace and read about it. I told my love about that camera, fell in love with that camera, then decided to buy that camera.

Turns out the shop owner is an old school guy – he wouldn’t let digital cameras be sold at his shop for nearly a decade after they appeared.

So I went back to the shop, and the camera wasn’t available for purchase anymore. They told me they had to send it for repairs, and maybe it will be available again in a week or so.

Destroyed, I left the shop just to find out that my girlfriend persuaded the whole staff to deceive me. The Yashica Electro 35 was waiting for me on my birthday.

From that point, I was hooked, I took the camera everywhere.
I would go out for long walks and shoot film and soon I realised that it helped me a lot to get rid of stress. I would cheat work and go to the camera shop to stare at cameras and buy my film and get my prints – so I could endure the remaining hours.

Grab the camera, load film, leave your phone at home. Go out, walk, observe, take pictures – and let go of stuff. Disconnect. Fly low, get off the radar. Make your escape.

Years have passed since I started, and in the process, I learned a lot and there’s still a lot to do. Just remember, it’s not black magic to develop your own film, and it’s not hard to set up your bath-darkroom and print. This is not something that people used to do the medieval times, and it’s not outdated in any way. It’s just another way. It might as well be the same as doing sport or anything else that can help you.

For me, film photography is the medicine to survive our hectic world.Black on white photo of Redcar shot on Ilford film

All images ©Krisztian Bedynski