After around 12 years of digital photography, I stumbled across film. I found myself coming away from the high contrast triggering photos everyone seems to be creating on digital these days (including myself). I had moved from DSLRs to micro four thirds and still found myself striving for something more creative and challenging. For that, film was the answer.

My first roll was shot on an eBay bargain Olympus OM20 with a 50mm f/1.4, both of which are still my everyday carry. The 35mm roll of choice was the classic Kodak Gold 200 with 24 exposures although I squeezed 26 in including the first of the roll. Cheap enough to not stress about the results while still creating beautiful buttery photos.

About 4 years before, I had tried out film photography on a Canon AE-1 program somebody had given me but I hadn’t loaded the film properly and gave up soon after. So technically this is my second roll but I was back for another attempt.

I sat at the top of the stairs and watched a Youtube instructional on film loading so it didn’t go wrong this time. The first shot was through the bathroom door of the toilet, which I found hilarious when I got the scans back. Second up was an accidentally super sharp image of my phone still playing the Youtube film loading video.

So it begins…

I skulked around the house looking for my first victims with the camera in hand. A terrible picture of my coffee machine was for starters, the main course was a walk around the garden and a shot of the view, but pudding was exactly what I hoped film photography would be and more: My dog sat up on the picnic bench in the garden. It was soft, buttery and the colours were amazing. I was stunned when I got the scans back and it’s still set as my phone lock screen a month later.

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I then grabbed the car keys and rallied the troops (dog and partner) for a walk around the harbour and prom in our local town of Maryport. Not knowing if the camera even worked, I thought it would be best not to travel the extra 20 minutes to the lake district (on this occasion). It hit me while out on the walk how slow the process of taking pictures on film was. I instantly loved the idea of detaching from the digital age, not knowing what I had taken or if it had turned out in a usable picture.

The rest of the roll consists of a steep learning curve of pure mistakes and errors. The camera worked perfectly, my eye for photography was still looking in the right direction but my technical skills were somewhat lacking. What I loved the most was the suspense of the wait to receive the scans from the lab. But when they arrive the critical analysis can begin. I sat the troops down in front of the television to go through the pictures and they were met with a sense of awe and amazement. Neither of us had ever taken photographs on film before and it was an opportunity I was pleased to have taken.

What I took from my first roll:

  • A mix of good and mostly bad pictures.
  • Image stabilisation was my friend and now it is gone.
  • f/1.4 means seriously shallow depth of field.
  • Light hits differently on film.
  • Manual focus is challenging but far easier with a focus screen.
  • 24 exposures can mean 26.

Although unrelated to analogue… I need to hold my camera straight! I love film photography and I can’t believe how much it scared me!

Thank you for reading and I hope this may help or inspire you to take on film photography.

~ Ryan

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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About the author

Ryan Galea

Lake District based photographer originating from digital photography trying to find my feet in film photography. I specialise in landscapes and portrait photography after several years experience in wedding photography and a diploma in Art.


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  1. Exactly my same experience: I just started shooting film and I did terribly with my first roll. Techical skills and fear of shooting right made nervous and lacked concentration. I shot with an Olympus OM2 and a 50mm f/1.4, Portra 400 but I forgot to set up the ASA and the photos came out underexposed. And yes, light hits differently on film I found out.

    Focus screen is a trip, sometimes a bad one lol. And not to mention trying to compose on a viewfinder that is not at all lie the new ones.

    Great photos of yours, not too bad for your first roll. I really loved the one with the dog holding the stick.