My first roll… Of 35mm film – Fuji Superia X-TRA 400 – by EMULSIVE

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Regular readers might remember a conversation between Hamish Gill and me about the false narrative that is the “constant stream of success” on social media. You know what I’m talking about: perfect photos of perfect scenes with perfect cameras. It doesn’t exist outside of perfectly curated personas but is persuasive enough that it frustrates the hell out of me.

Some people might call it “inspirational”, or shower the concept with all manner of platitudes but in reality, it only serves one purpose: to sell you something, whether that be a product, an idea or a person.

Sharing my first roll of 35mm film is my attempt to push back on that and hopefully inspire some of you reading this to do the same (see below for more). I say “first roll” but in reality, this was my first roll of film after coming back to the medium following a break of over decade.

It was Fuji Superia X-TRA 400 and was shot in a Vivitar Ultrawide and Slim clone. Cherry red with a plastic lens and plastic body. The camera itself is long gone now, the door lock exploded on my after about 50 rolls, which was most likely down to me smacking it on a table every time I wanted to load/unload film (sticky door).

I’ve had a few over more of these cameras over the years but this little plastic beast was my favourite. Without it, I probably wouldn’t be shooting film today or talking to you through this website right now. It’s the camera/film combination that opened my eyes to the beauty of film photography and the ability of seemingly terrible gear to create highly evocative photographs – to me at least. As a spoiler, here’s what I call “my return to film” photograph taken on this very roll.

The results below aren’t fantastic but how could they be? I’ve presented them in the order they were shot – 19 frames from a roll that produced 34 exposures.

Here goes:

What’s next is up to you. I’d like to throw down a gauntlet of sorts and ask you to share your first roll or sheet of film – warts and all, just like I’ve done here. It doesn’t matter if they’re out of focus, badly exposed or badly frames. And it certainly doesn’t matter if they don’t represent where you are photographically today.

All I need is your photos, a bit about the film and the camera and what it meant to you. 500-ish words should do the trick but don’t feel like you need to restrict yourself, it’s finished when it’s finished. Feel free to take artistic licence and break it down in as much detail as feel right. Interested? Drop me a line.

I’m hoping that this article and your examples will help show others in our community that photography, like life, is not perfect and for those new to film, it’ll hopefully help them realise that it’s ok to screw up.

I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes.

~ EM

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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At the heart of EMULSIVE is the concept of helping promote the transfer of knowledge across the film photography community. You can support this goal by contributing your thoughts, work, experiences and ideas to inspire the hundreds of thousands of people who read these pages each month. Check out the submission guide here.

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