The Shoot All the Films Project

Back when I picked up my first two film cameras on an impulse buy in a charity shop, I had no idea how much or how little I would move away from shooting vintage lenses on digital bodies and get into the analogue side of things.

I had no idea what the Kodak Colorplus was that I bought to test them out with, and I had no idea how many other film stocks were still being produced and are still widely available.

This all means I had no idea that from such beginnings would come a project that, depending on how you look at it, is either going to take a long time to finish or just be impossible to. But as we’ll get into later, that’s not a bad thing at all.

So here we are, with the shoot all the films project. It’s not terribly complicated. In fact, it’s exactly how it sounds. I’ve already made a start, and now I just need to carry on.

To carry on with the long-term and perhaps never-to-be-completed goal to shoot all the films.

The shoot all the films review library

If this is your first time here at My Favourite Lens, you may not know that I’ve already shot and talked about a number of film stocks already. The most popular posts on them are by far the reviews.

These detail the films’ history, image quality and qualities, how good they were for the type of photography I did with them, some information for development, and general overall thoughts.

I try to make the reviews as useful as I can for you, with plenty of information about the film to take away as well as lots of real-world example photographs and tips to help you know what to expect and to get results you’re happy with from the films too.

To make it easier to find a particular film stock, they’re listed in alphabetical order below. To see the reviews as they were written in chronological order, you can head over to this page here.

The shoot all the films photo essays

As well as the reviews, I also write photo essays showing the results I get from each film and a few accompanying thoughts. The number of posts and the topics vary with each film.

Some of these are informational, some are motivational, and some are personal travelogues or similar. But whatever they are, they aren’t all about me.

While I’m no expert and am likely not the best photographer whose work you’ll see today, I try to ensure these posts have at least something you can take away and apply into shooting the films yourself.

The number of essays will only grow as I get more films shot, so dig in today while this chronologically-ordered section is the smallest it will ever be. 

The infinite game of shooting all the films

Now you’ve seen everything that’s been published for the project so far, let’s take a little time to explain why I want to even do this.

It begins with a book published in 1986, written by James P. Carse, that details the differences between finite and infinite games. It’s a concept I found interesting enough to write a blog post exploring how it can affect your photography and any other creative output.

If you don’t want to read that whole essay, a basic explanation could be to compare a football match to two people kicking a ball to one another in the park. The first has rules and the reason for playing is to win, while the second has no rules and the reason for playing is to enjoy playing.

Specifically, a football match only goes on for 90 or so minutes. At the end of that time, whoever scored the most goals wins. It has an endpoint and a result. The people kicking the ball between themselves in the park though could do it every day for the rest of their lives merely because they like doing it.

Although I wasn’t aware of the concept of finite and infinite games at the time, the #leesixtyfive project I finished in 2018 was a finite one. 365 photographs in 365 days. A target to meet and a set date to end on.

By comparison, shooting film and publishing the results and the reviews on here seemed more like an infinite game.

There’s no fixed time where the process will stop, and it could be argued that it’ll be impossible to ever actually complete this to its stated aim. That really does depend on what you understand all the films to mean.

While it would take a long time, I could go through and shoot every film on Emulsive’s list of stocks currently produced and sold. But then you have all the obscure rebrands and discontinued and expired stocks down the years to consider too, if you truly want to shoot them all.

Regardless though, just creating a long – perhaps even lifelong – finite game in the form of this project, rather than shooting film after film in an aimless infinite one, gives me more purpose.

So, again, here we are. Just as I had no idea what would happen when I picked up those first two film cameras, I don’t really know where this thing might lead.

But there’s only one way to find out. And that, for as long as I’m physically or mentally able, is to shoot all the films.

Past and future benefits of the shoot all the films project

It’s almost time to wrap this up now, because I’ve got films to shoot and essays and reviews to write.

But before I do that, I want to outline some past and future benefits of doing this whole thing and hopefully inspire you to begin or continue creating something of your own.

As I’ve already mentioned, I’m not the best photographer whose images you’ll probably see today, and I’m certainly not the most knowledgeable person whose words you’ll read today either.

But what I am is a more comfortable, confident, and knowledgeable film photographer than I was back when I picked up those first two film cameras. And if I continue to do this, I should be more comfortable, confident, and knowledgeable again in a year than I am now.

At the time of writing this, I have no experience in developing my own film. It’s not a priority to try right now, but one day it might be. That does seem a natural next step to take, and I’ll give it a go as soon as I have the desire to do so.

Before I made my first film photo zine, I’d never made a film photo zine before. Or any other kind of publication. But because I started shooting film and got through enough Rollei Retro 400S to put one together featuring shots taken only on that stock, I now have.

It doesn’t matter what we do in life. The simple fact is we’re never going to be the finished article. The progression and improvement is all we can really ask for, and that’s something this project is giving me.

Past benefits? Learning a lot about all the films I’ve already shot. Becoming a more comfortable, confident, and knowledgeable film photographer. Getting that first zine published.

Future benefits? Having a purpose and a goal that will likely never be achieved. Because it feels to me like the kind of thing you do and then don’t get the huge high you’d been expecting once it’s done.

That means the process has to be where the enjoyment is, and that’s the main future benefit of this for me.

Always improving, progressing, and finding happiness in a finite game so difficult to finish that it’s essentially an infinite one, rather than reaching the final whistle and not knowing what to do next.

Actually wrapping this up now

Thank you for reading this far. It really is time to wrap this up now and I’ll do so with a few ways you can get involved or support this project, should you want to.

First is to simply leave me a comment on any of the film reviews or photo essays you may have read and found some value in. They all help me keep going with this thing. 🙂

Second, if you’re looking for somewhere to buy some film too, is to use this link and get it from Analogue Wonderland. It’ll support their business, help me build some loyalty points towards money-off vouchers, and will see you get a free roll of film too if it’s your first time buying from them.

Third, if you’re a fan of seeing film photography in print and not just on a screen, would be to check out the Shanghai Streets zine I put together. Buy a copy if you want, or share the link with anyone else you feel might like it too.

And similar to that, the final way you can support this project if you feel it deserves it, is again just to share it with anyone you think might be interested in it and hopefully be inspired by it to do something of their own too.

Thanks for reading. Dig into the archives. Leave a comment below. Say hello on Instagram or Twitter.

Better still, turn your computer off or put your phone away and go head out with your camera. It’s time to shoot all the films.

Lee  😀

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