Airport Square in Chongqing is probably not a place you’ll ever go to. That’s not me being an elitist travel bore. Not deliberately anyway.
Airport Square is a place I found myself in due to a bonus day in Chongqing after a delayed flight caused a missed connection. It’s nothing special. Just a square near the airport, which is pretty far from the city. It’s a place I hope I’ll never go to again.
Don’t get me wrong. Chongqing is a great place to visit if you ever have chance. Just go to the main bit though and forget Airport Square.
It was actually my first time shooting street photography on any kind of film. Read on to see how it went down.
It’s just really local, isn’t it?
Not one other non-Chinese face did I see. But not just that. The locals were very local. Very Chinese. The clothes. The stuff on sale. The fairground rides. Just… the atmosphere.
All were just different to how things are and feel in Shanghai. And these images, shot on cheap Kodak ColorPlus 200 in a run-of-the-mill point ‘n’ shoot, seem to really bring that out.
A couple of things to note about these photographs. First is that I could have cropped them a bit more. There are things on the edges of some that they could do without.
I didn’t want to crop them, though. I happily crop digital photos. But these ones seemed better – more real – with the imperfections left there. They’ll also remind me to be more careful with the composition next time.
Also, cropping some but not others was ruining the consistency of the set. It would have looked like some were taken at a different focal length.
The second thing to note is the composition itself.
I’m used to knowing what I’m focusing on. With this camera, I had no idea and guessed it was focusing on the entire shot – so I composed shots that should work with everything in focus.
That’s led to a style running through the set. It wasn’t intentional, but there’s a kind of flatness to some of them. Not in a negative way. I don’t mean the contrast or the colours.
I just see a kind of plane of subjects in most of them. Especially in this batch below, and in the header image too.
One thing I did notice in the images, despite doing all I can to keep a consistency through the set, was an inconsistency in the textures of some of them.
Some came out far grainier or even blockier than others, while some, like the basketball one below, were far softer and more dream-like.
Maybe because it’s a little out of focus.
The other image below has a very obvious imperfection too. Had I been shooting digital I would have definitely tried to get another shot without the cable bisecting the lady’s face.
Of course, with film, I didn’t realise it was there until it was far too late.
The chap in the final image was clearly happy to be having his photo taken, and the fact that he noticed me doing it brings up another thing I noticed with shooting with a film camera.
When I use the Sony NEX, there’s no viewfinder so I’m often holding it at chest height while shooting.
This makes it, and me, more inconspicuous, and having an unlimited number of shots means I can take more of them, more quickly, and delete the ones I don’t want.
Using a film camera with a viewfinder made me conspicuous and slow by making me put it to my eye and really thinking about the frame. Hence the guy clocked me. I like his message though.
All in all I think my first time playing with the Canon Sure Shot AF-7 went well enough, considering I didn’t know if the camera even worked when I bought it from a charity shop in Nottingham.
Had I not taken a chance and spent the huge £2.99 on it, we would never have had these photographs, and possibly none of the other film photo essays I’ve done since either.
I think there’s a good message to take from that. If you’re looking to get started with film photography, you don’t need expensive gear. Any working camera will do and a budget film like Kodak ColorPlus 200 will be good enough too.
As I learned myself, there’s nothing else you really need to get out there and #shootfilmmakesomething 🙂
… p.s. if you shoot film yourself and want to spread the word, why not share or pin this article?