Super 8

To be honest, this was a long time coming… 

It has always been about film. I never had plans to be anything but a film photographer. Some photographers start on film, black and white classes in high school, a film camera from their grandfather, a thrifted camera they found with some friends, a few rounds of disposables.  But somewhere along the way, they graduate. They move onto digital, returning to film for a taste of nostalgia and the simple days of learning and there is truly nothing wrong with that.

But for me, there is no other option. Film is the way so it didn’t quite shock me that a couple years ago I was trying to outbid someone on Ebay for an old super 8 camera I knew nothing about. I lost that bid and realized I should focus my energies on harvesting my still photos before trying to take on another new project. I feel ready now. 

The theme of this month for myself is to create the feeling of wanting more. I want others to see a photo and immediately be filled with a void that can only be filled by seeing more. At the same time, I want them to feel filled, content and happy. I know, confusing and I’m sorry that my goal is to pull at your heartstrings. 

The challenge for myself is to limit my equipment and limit how much film I’m using during each shoot. In cliché terms, adapting the mindset that less is more. I think introducing super 8 to the collection is the perfect way to start. At $25/reel for only three minutes, 180 seconds of footage, you have no other option but to carefully create. I think I can learn a lot from its patience, not only in my use of super 8 and film photography but in my life. 

I receive an old school Braun Nizo for my birthday. I had to search near and far on the interweb for a manual but came up short. No Youtube tutorials, just the old school method of trial and error. The light meter batteries took three weeks to arrive and the film took a little over a week to process and return to my hands. I learned along the way that there are not many who still develop 8mm.

This is going to be a long journey but I have never been more excited to begin. I have butterflies thinking about it. It reminds me of high school, receiving my first polaroid from Amazon after Polaroid declared bankruptcy. I was turned away from multiple film shops in my town when searching for film. Every “good luck with that” and “film is dying” made me work twice as hard to find it and be apart of the community that is resurrecting it. And look at film now. I’m being met with the same resistance with super 8 but I can see its future, the same way I saw the future of film photography when there was not much of a life left for it. 

Enough of me ranting about film, here is a clip from my first reel of super 8 film and by no means the last. 

Words and photographs by Sammy Keller.

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