I've been excited about photography since I was a young child, asking for a camera for Christmas when I was only 5. When in high school, I had the opportunity to take a course in Photography, and thought, "what the heck, I take a few pictures with my Kodak Instamatic and that's it", but found I'd be learning to use a 35mm. Fortunately, our next door neighbor, a friend of my dad's, was a photographer who had a darkroom, and he agreed to help me along! He taught me how to develop film, including how to push it. I used my dad's Miranda 35mm camera, and before I could say, "watch the birdie!" I was hooked! My photographs of high school basketball (Kodak Tri-X, pushed to 1600) were featured in the high school yearbook and local newspaper, fanning the fire of excitement! As fate would have it, my dad had purchased some darkroom equipment, thinking he might learn how to develop and print, but he gave it to me instead, and soon a corner of the basement became my haven. It was the generosity of our neighbor with his time and patience, plus the outstanding support of my dad, that allowed me to pursue the hobby I fell in love with, and it is their examples of giving I attempt to follow today.
I spent 15 years as an industrial photographer, as well as nine years as a photography instructor at a local college; all were centered around film, as we didn't have digital "back then". The industrial gig not only provided a stable income, but I gained valuable experience in portraiture, large format, public relations, and technical photography, both in the studio and on location. I might find myself doing executive portraiture in the morning, then photographing a laser assembly from a vert-a-lift in the afternoon!
Now, years later, I own a DSLR, but it rarely leaves the house. I collect analog cameras (yes, I still have my dad's) and shoot everything from 35mm to 4x5. One of the bedrooms in my home is converted to a darkroom. You can't walk into any room in this house without tripping over a photo magazine, a camera, or a tripod!
Shooting film is the origin of incredible magic! First, there is the aesthetic/creative process of determining how best to compose the subject, pre visualizing how the final image will appear. Then there is the analytical phase, evaluating the light and deciding on appropriate exposure to achieve the desired result. Making the exposure is followed by excited anticipation as the film is developed, and for those who do their own printing, the incredible experience of watching the image gradually appear on that piece of paper in the developer tray! No wonder the DSLR stays home most of the time!
Me an "analog ambassador"? Just because film has been my passion for over 40 years? Just because I believe film photography demands more discipline but yields more rewards? Because I have the fever for encouraging "newbies" to cut their photographic teeth by shooting film? Those are contributing factors, but I have a confession to make. Film isn't just "point and shoot", and it isn't "bang off 100's of images, hope for a good one, and fix everything in the computer". Film is spiritual. It's a thought process. It's hands on...you analyze and create simultaneously. If you're the darkroom enthusiast, you witness the magic. Finally, you hang the finished product. Admire and enjoy the rich tonality of an image printed from a negative. Smile, and look on your creation with pride; after all, it's film...YOU did this!