My name is Roy Karlsvik.
A 48-year-old hobby photographer from the windswept, cold, but still beautiful northwestern coast of Norway. I work as a marine engineer on board a ship working in the North Sea and North Atlantic area.
I have been into photography since I was a kid in the mid 70’s and film is still my medium of choice today. I use both small and medium format film which I feed through different types of cameras.
Today I’m the guest blogger for ILFORD, the legendary company whose film and darkroom papers I grew up with and learned to know through my father’s darkroom, and also not to forget my uncles stock of FP4, and HP5 back in the days.
You see them all over the web these days, different kinds of self-tests. I never pay them too much attention, but a few months ago I spotted one that made me stop for a minute before I decided to give it a go. I don’t know why I did because I already found the answer years ago, a very long time before facebook was around to tell me the truth.
This particular test was to find out if you’re an engineer or artistic brained type of dude/dudette.
This is quite relevant to photography, as it happens because this form of art is in the possession of two hugely important but also totally colliding and different sides to it.
First, you have the technical side with all the different types and models of cameras. You have your shutter times and aperture, a myriad of lenses, questions like which film to use and when, development times, chemistry, fogging of negatives, the old “do I want a coated lens or not”, and not to forget the “how on earth could I possibly use this lens where you can’t even use half stops?” The list could just go on forever, and there’s a lot of noise about things like these going on.
Then you have the artistic side. And by mentioning just that, a lot of us suddenly become very quiet. At least that would be valid to many of the engineer-brain-celled lot of us. All the things that happen in the very important few seconds before a picture is taken, and the moment is frozen in time for all eternity, sometimes seem to be completely forgotten.
Why? I mean I surely should know well enough the importance of the subject and the composition, and I know I actually care about it as well, but for some strange reason I seem to use a lot more time and effort discussing (and willingly blaming) the technical side of photography instead of using some time to really take a deep dive into my own artistic self to find out what’s possibly in there to take advantage from.
I think my photography pretty much reflects the area where I grew up, and also live and work in. You can’t be afraid of some wet and cold weather around this part of the world, and that could be one of the reasons why I usually will go for a fully mechanical camera without batteries.
I like to try and keep things simple through my entire workflow, and I like to print my snaps in the darkroom in the end.
I think we really need these prints, today maybe even more than ever. People seem to not buy or get quality prints from their everyday photos anymore, and this is maybe the biggest drawback from digital photography in my point of view.
Talking about “the other side” I think we should not forget the fact that we probably also have a lot to thank digital photography for. After all, it’s here to stay, and we have to live with it in some way. We can discuss which method of the two being the best for a very long time, and I think there’s more than enough people doing just that already, but the fact is we will need new comers to film.
The new comers will need stacks of the stuff, which in turn will increase the demand and keep the industry alive for all of us to take advantage of. The only place we can get those new comers from these days will be from the digital generation, and I don’t think the right way of doing that is by discussing digital vs film until boredom kills us all. They will eventually join because of the quality of film, and because they will find this community to be a friendly and sharing one.
Personally, I think the safest way to save film once and for all is to keep photography as a whole alive, and busy. This will hopefully have the side effect of making even more young people curious about film, and the wheel will hopefully turn by itself in the end.
Luckily we will still have ILFORD around when that happens, one of very few dedicated companies with the know-how still on board to provide us with the goods we need to be able to still pin a darkroom print of our loved ones up on a wall in the days to come.
Which in turn should mean there is still hope of a future for a film waster like myself.