The Ennead

This is what happens. You have film in a couple of cameras and then you pick up a new (old) camera and think “I had better put some film in here and see how it goes” and then you pick up an old camera that you haven’t used for a couple of years and you think “I like this camera, I’ll give it another spin” and before you know it, you have film in 9 cameras.

That would be an ennead of cameras. (ennead = group of nine). There are hidden advantages to this, but also disadvantages. For example, you can find that you have in your possession, pictures of forgotten days that make you smile. Also though, you might discover that your film has deteriorated, and if your camera is especially primitive, light may have got in and wiped a frame or three. I once had film in a Zenit for 3 years. Some of the frames were ghostlike, but it still had a certain vague quality which was appealing.

Right now I have film in:

  • Agfa Trolix (made of bakelite) 1936.
  • Zorki 4
  • Kodak Colorsnap 35
  • Olympus mju 1
  • Kodak Instamatic 233
  • Halina 35X
  • Olympus 35RC
  • Pentax auto 110
  • Mamiya 645

Clearly it is time I used up these films. The Instamatic has had film in for over a year, and it was already well out of date. Kodak stopped making 126 cartridge film in 1987, so that gives you some idea of how very expired this film is. In the summer, when the light is good and everyone is outside it is easy to get through film, but as the days grow short, photography gets stalled. You can still get the pictures, but they require considerably more effort and dedication. By the time I get my work done, it is already getting dark, so photography must be squeezed into the weekends.

It is all – for me at least – a wonderful exercise in uncertainty. Analogue photography is the end of a spectrum, and quite the opposite of the control and precision that has come to characterise the digital market. You put old film in an old camera and you have no idea what will come out. That is the beauty of it. I’m okay with uncertainty.


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