This summer we went to Canada. Arthur had just finished his GCSEs and it felt like the right time to take the boys on a big adventure whilst they are both still living at home. We flew to Vancouver, and from there we rented an RV. We travelled around British Columbia for eight days, staying in an assortment of the beautiful provincial parks. We spent our days swimming, cooking, reading, walking, canoeing, kayaking, napping and playing card games around the fire.
We have learnt over the years that we get along much better as a family, and have far more fun together, if we have strict rules about phone usage. On this trip we agreed we could use our phones for whatever we liked when we were on the move (which meant Richard didn’t get to use his at all as he did all the driving!) and other than that we would use them only for taking photographs. I realised, however, as soon as we landed in Vancouver, that I was feeling burnt out digitally and developed a phobia of picking up my phone and being connected to the online world. So I put it away and barely used it for the whole time we were there. I took precisely eleven iPhone photos in twelve days and instead shot our holiday on film. And I was very glad that I did because the results astounded me.
Shooting film adds a wonderful dimension to a holiday. Each shot costs real money and so you take far fewer photos than you would with a digital camera or an iPhone. The result is that you spend more time being in your holiday than you do recording it. Not using your phone to take photos is a blessing – I don’t know about you but I often find myself picking up my phone to take a photo and somehow end up scrolling Instagram or checking my emails instead. It’s maddeningly hard to resist.
But there is another reason why I love shooting film on holidays. It’s about noticing the details. I notice cloud formations, or dappled light through trees. I study the shape of the waves and the depth and layers of a hedgerow. Sometimes it’s these small details that define the essence of our trips and help us form memories of time and place. I have found that I am far more tuned in to these miniature worlds shooting on film than I ever was with digital.
It made me very, very happy to see both Richard and Evan pick up a camera and start their analogue journey in Canada. It was so nice for all of us to have some time out of our busy schedules to learn a new hobby and practise something creative. Arthur is less interested, but that’s ok, he spends no time on his phone whatsoever and doesn’t need the break from it that the three of us do.
We are all still very much at the beginning of our analogue journey and I had no idea how our images would turn out. I sent our rolls to Carmencita when we arrived back in the UK and began the nervous wait for the WeTransfer email to arrive. The wait for your scans can be one of the chief frustrations with shooting on film, but I have come to love this respite from the immediacy and hyper-convenience of the modern world. Waiting or your images can be a wonderful thing – just as your memories are beginning to fade, you are given the chance to relive them. You have the space and time to look at every tiny detail and lock them away in your mind, sealing your memories forever.
I was nervous to open the email. I conjured up some fortitude, held my breath and downloaded the files. I’d never shot an entire holiday on film before without the backup of iPhone photos, and was terrified they’d be duds and we’d have no record of our time in Canada. I was expecting to be disappointed, but what I saw blew me away and I still can’t believe I took some of these images. There is definitely room for improvement but they are the most wonderful reminder of our holiday and I can’t imagine now ever not recording a family holiday on film.
Shot on a Pentax K100 and Nikon F4 using Fuji Superior 400. Rated 200, over-exposed one stop. Developed by Carmencita.