The Story Of Black And White Photographs II (And Why I Love Shooting Analog)

The story of black and white photographs II

This is your photographer's soul exposed,
as real and raw as it can ever be.

My favorite camera repair shop is a secret gem of a place in the heart of Prague, owned by Josef. It's hard to guess how old Josef actually is. He's one of those people who could be 55 or 75, and you would never know. He doesn't talk much, and he usually utters just a few words. He's been repairing and restoring old cameras his whole life, and although I wouldn't say we are friends (it's essentially impossible to be friends with someone you have exchanged ten words with in ten years), we are passionate accomplices: we both love old analog cameras.

There is something special about shooting on film. You can make only 36 photographs before having to change the film roll. Unable to see the end result immediately, you need to wait until it's developed. Opening the envelope with your photographs (and oh, the lovely darkroom smell!) is like opening a box of chocolates. Exciting and surprising. What you see is what you get. There is no going back, no editing, no fixing. This is your photographer's soul exposed, as real and raw as it can ever be.

Contax D is my favorite analog camera. It's almost 70 years old, and still works like a miracle. I love how heavy it feels in my hands, and I am grateful for the lessons it has taught me over the years. Patience, focus, a different way of seeing.

I still remember the day I found it in my grandpa's basement after he passed. At that time, I was still a fledgling photographer, experimenting, playing, trying to find my voice. Proud of my brand new Canon DSLR, I didn't really know what to do with it and I had no idea if it still worked. I showed it to a friend who suggested I should take it to Josef, so I did.

I quickly learned Josef didn't like newcomers. They made him grumpy because in his eyes, most of them didn't know what they were doing anyway and had no right to call themselves photographers. (I've known Josef for ten years, and I have yet to meet a person deserving of the title "photographer" in his world. We don't see eye to eye on that. But I digress.) I was a stranger on that day. Which means I terribly bothered him. But I came recommended, and he, very unwillingly, agreed to have a look at my grandpa's camera, obviously not expecting much.

I will never forget how his eyes lit up when he carefully removed the leather case. With a wide, joyful smile, he cleaned the camera, and he loaded it with film. He was quiet the whole time. Then he handed it to me, and said: "Shoot with it." I wanted to pay him, but he refused to take my money. And he repeated: "Just shoot with it, young lady." And so I did.

I still use my grandpa's Contax D for personal projects. I don't travel with it, it's too precious to be taken on the road, and so I always love coming back to it when I return from my adventures. This camera has a soul and a story that deserves to be told. It's magical, and thanks to Josef's regular care and attention, it's still as good as new. A perfect tool for a photographer's heart.