The title is a lie. Judging by my mother’s careful organisation of our family photographic archive, the photos I’m about to share are from my third roll of 35mm. The first two were taken during summer camp holidays and mostly feature portraits of other children. They are all grown up now but I do not feel it’s appropriate to share their portraits with the world of the Internet without their consent. Since I have no idea who those people are any longer, I have no way of contacting them. But I digress…
My first roll of 35mm I can share with you was shot when I was eight years old during a school visit to one of the Loire castles in France. I have no idea which one and since I’m not into castles, I do not feel any inclination to research the matter further.
The camera and film used are a mystery too. I have no doubt that it was a disposable camera bought at the bookshop where we purchased most of our films and had them developed (France Loisirs). At eight years old I was not allowed to take photos with my mom’s camera. Instead I was granted a disposable camera for special occasions such as school trips and summer camp holidays.
As you can see, I pointed and shooted, capturing what caught my attention. I seem to have had zero interest in framing and a knack for holding the camera at a slight angle (something I am still guilty of today).
I believe the camera would have had 24 exposures (it was a surprise to me when I returned to film that you could get rolls of 36 exposures. Such luxury!). I have no idea where the remaining photos are. Three of the class by the castle – not featured here – are taken by the teacher, the rest I have lost. I suspect they are in another album of photos around home or maybe of a family holiday.
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It is difficult for me to be objective about the images. I will not deny they have no artistic value but then they were not taken as such. What I like about them is that they are snapshots and narrate the story of the visit. They capture what I saw from the height I was. I can easily imagine how I would have been impressed by my first view of the castle and photographed it while walking, the school group trailing in front of me. Then walking along and discovering the gardens and their perfectly manicured shapes, at once foreign and familiar, would have been exciting. And finally, getting to explore the inside of the castle. I can almost hear the stern voice of my teacher teaching us about history as we stood around miniature versions of battles and scenes of daily life.
Those photos would have been memorable to little me. I would have been excited to see the prints when my mother finally had time to collect them from the shop, and I would have told her the stories of that school trip all over again, this time with photographic evidence explaining what I had learned.
More than twenty years later, I have forgotten what I have learned but it doesn’t matter. Those photos still make me smile. They are a repository for my memory, an anchor to remind me of what I saw and who I was at the time of taking those photos.
Want to share your first roll or sheet of film?
Poorly exposed, badly framed and blurry photos? No-one is perfect, especially when shooting their first roll of film...but that's ok and I'd like to spread that message. Submit as many frames from your first roll as you're able to with an accompanying text of at least 500 words using this Google form. If you would prefer to submit another way, please use the contact link at the top of the page.
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As a fellow Emulsive First Roll Early-Ager I was intrigued to see these. There’s something lovely about the view these give us of what a child would do given 24 frames only to use on a trip. The early understanding of what a photo is and the photos we choose to make as a child. By the way – could the castle be Fountainbleu? I rode past there a couple of years ago and gardens in the forest had this look.
Definitely. It really is what struck me when I looked back on those photos. Even more so when I looked at the two previous rolls full of portraits. The landscape and the scenery of where I was didn’t get photographed at all. What mattered then where the people I was spending a couple of weeks with.
It could be Fontainebleau. I find it difficult to tell for sure with the shots that I have.