Exactly a year ago I was in Japan, alternately freezing in bitter winds and basking in beautiful sunshine as I enjoyed some of the country’s temples, parks, cities and wonderful food for the first time. As I look back at my very flawed photographs, I wonder whether the blazing red leaves have again clung on into December, whether paragliders still swoop over meditation halls, and whether the crowds in the cities are still as thick as the scent of broth from downtown ramen shops. These first impressions stuck with me.
I shot my photographs with a Lomo Diana Mini, a plastic camera that takes ordinary – or once ordinary – 35mm film. I rarely take analogue photographs, so rationing my shots was an unfamiliar experience. It felt a bit like rationing memories.
I quite like the way that film takes a single moment and chemically fixes it. I like the fact that this reaction can’t be altered or undone. Maybe unconsciously that’s why I took that camera in the first place.
If it was a sense of permanence that attracted me to analogue, you’d think I’d have been anxious to develop my films as soon as possible, before they degraded. Instead, somehow, they sat unprocessed in the back of a cupboard for months after my trip. I don’t know precisely what effect this had but it’s likely that these images are now subtly ‘more unique’ than when I clicked the shutter. I’ve read that the human mind works in a similar way, generating ever newer and less accurate versions of memories rather than showing us the originals. In the end, is that what makes analogue film feel ‘authentic’?