I took a trip with my kids to Amsterdam, Budapest and Prague (then I sent them home and visited Salzburg and Vienna with my mom, who met us in Prague) over the summer of 2018, and I got it in my head to bring only a film camera. And I brought one that was relatively new to me (though old as hell–a Contax iiia with a 50mm lens on it and no other lenses). I’d run a few rolls through it, so I knew it worked, but I was still risking spending three weeks in Europe and having no photos at the end. I had my phone with me just in case, and for food pics and Instagram shots while we traveled along, and maybe that’s why I didn’t feel nervous about it.
I’d hoped that it would free me from feeling relentlessly pressured to shoot everything I saw, or to spend more time than necessary in one spot trying to get the perfect shot. More often than not, I snapped and moved on, and I felt more connected to the places we visited, and more connected to my traveling companions, than I have on previous trips when I haul a bag full of digital equipment with me. Limitations, even self-imposed ones, can be really fucking liberating.
I loved it. Though not enough to go film-only on my trip to Iceland, Belgium and The Netherlands in October, and you can be damn sure I’ll be hauling as much digital equipment I can squeeze into my 33 lb weight restriction for my upcoming trip to Africa. But since that film-only trip, I’ve been reaching for the film cameras a lot more often.
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