Category Archives: Thoughts & Opinions


No, the Utah Film Photography website is not abandoned. During the final months of 2019, I had a few of what I would label “positive life changing events.” And then Covid-19, stay-at-home and social distancing guidelines occurred. That’s why the site has gone so long without regular updates. Plus, I’ve delayed writing this post because I hate talking about myself.

Life changing events? One occurred in September when I had gastric bypass surgery. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but it is the best thing I’ve ever done for my health. I have lost 100+ lbs. I look and feel fantastic! And feeling great has changed my approach to photography because I have the energy to get out and shoot. It’s interesting how personal issues, like weight and food in my case, can hold creativity hostage.

This year is the fifth birthday of Utah Film Photography. A much-needed facelift is needed to the website. In the coming months, you can expect some changes to the look of the site. While some people are referring to 2020 as a dumpster fire, I’m staying positive. There are so many cameras and films that I want to experience this year. Stay tuned, stay safe, and go take some cool film photos!

— Shaun @


Another Reason for Film Photography

When I was a kid, I remember the first time I experienced using an Apple II. Yes, I died of dysentery several times, and knew how to make fun geometric graphics with Logo. Most of my teen years were spent typing in programs from magazines, calling bulletin boards at 300 baud and cracking games. From an early age, I knew I wanted a career that had something to do with computers. I still own a Commodore 64 with every imaginable peripheral, accessory, and game.

I think about how many screens I look at each day: computer, phone, tablet, television. I have a screen built into the dash of my car. Occasionally, I still play games on my Nintendo DS and PSP. Over the last 4 years, I’ve come to dislike the amount of time I spend in front of a computer screen. This is one reason I think it’s critical for digital photographers, myself included, to get the shot right the first time, in camera. Why spend all that extra time in Photoshop if you don’t have to? When I was president of the local camera club, I’d often pose the question to members, “Are you a good photographer, or a good Photo-shopper?” I know a lot of people that, on the surface, are good photographers, but are slightly better at Photoshop. Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using a digital tool to get the image that you envisioned. I believe that pixels are meant to be punished. And any person who pays me to capture their photo, deserves my time to make sure they look their best.

One more reason for film photography: it requires minimal amount of time in front of a computer screen. After I develop my film, I scan it, and removed a few dust specs. That’s all. I spend far less time in front of my computer when I shoot film. Using the same philosophy of getting the image right the first time, only with the scanner, I use an anti-static brush and handle negatives with gloves. I spend minimal amount of time at the computer fixing scanned negatives.

I doubt my future grandchildren will say, “Grandpa, you must have spent hours in front of the computer to create this photo.” I would rather spend my time capturing images of the people and places I love than sitting in front of computer. Is anybody really going to care how much time I spent at a computer to fix a photo? No. If I can shoot film, enjoy the process of developing and scanning, and spend time on the other things that matter, that’s what I’m going to do.

The Negative Positives Podcast

You can hear yours truly on the latest episode of the Negative Positives Film Photography Podcast hosted by Mike Gutterman and Andre Domingues. You can listen on Podbeam, or search for it on your favorite podcatcher.


A First Time for Everything

I came to know Bailey when my wife and I took a trip last summer with a group to Europe. Bailey is a senior in high school and enjoys playing the piano, Harry Potter, boys, and photography. After returning from Europe, I emailed Bailey and asked if she wanted a film camera to try. She quickly replied with an enthusiastic, “Yes!” I gave Bailey the Olympus OM-1 MD that I took to Europe, provided a short tutorial, presented her with a manual, and a roll of Ilford HP5+ black and white film. A few weeks later, we met and shot the Kulture Krash Car Show in Clearfield, Utah. After the car show, I asked Bailey if she would be interested in developing her roll of film. Again, she gave me another enthusiastic, “Yes!” A few weeks passed, and she came over to the UTFP Worldwide Headquarters (my house). I showed her how to load a Patterson reel, and explained the chemistry we would be using. Since I needed my roll of film from the car show developed, I had Bailey develop mine at the same time. After the final rinse, she took her negatives off the reel to hang up, and her first response was, “Oh cool!” She experienced that feeling film photographers get when they see the final results of something physical they’ve created. Overall, she did fantastic and had a positive experience. Through a Q and A, I asked Bailey if she would share some of her thoughts.

What camera and film did you use?

My first ever film camera and the one I used on this shoot was the Olympus OM-1, with 400 ISO film.

While you were shooting, did anyone ask you about the camera?

This sweet little old man sparked up a conversation about my film camera, asking me what kind of camera it was and telling me about one of his old film cameras.

What did you take photos of?

All of the photos I took were of different cars at the car show in Clearfield, most of them focusing on the cars, but a few with people in them.

What did you like about taking photos with a film camera?

I loved being able to adjust the settings manually and seeing how it affected the photo; I know you can do this on DSLR cameras when put on the manual setting, but most of the time before shooting with my film camera, I just set my DSLR on automatic. Shooting with a film camera makes you adjust the settings and really get familiar with the mechanics of photography.

What did you dislike about taking photos with a film camera?

You really have to take your time with a film camera, making sure you get the exact shot you want, which can be a good thing and a bad thing. It makes you better at composing your photos, but there are also times when I like to take lots of photos of the same thing, from slightly different angles or different composures, and then just choose the one I liked later on the computer. Obviously, with a film camera, taking lots of photos of the same thing isn’t very practical as the film does cost a bit and you don’t want to have a roll of film all of the same thing.

What was the easiest part about using this camera?

The easiest part of using the Olympus OM-1 was probably the accessibility of all the settings. Anything I needed to adjust, I could do so with my left hand on the lens, twisting and turning as needed. Another thing that was very helpful was the light meter; I could see how I needed to adjust the settings in order to have optimal lighting.

What was the hardest part about using this camera?

The hardest part of using this camera was getting used to adjusting all the settings by hand and not just having it done for me automatically, but it was, as I said earlier a very rewarding experience to now know how to do that.

What did you learn by taking photos with a film camera?

I learned a lot about lighting, aperture, and how to adjust certain things to make my photos better.

What did you think of the development process?

The development process was actually a lot easier than I expected! I was able to load the film much quicker than I thought I would, and developing the photos themselves is really just a lot of pouring in chemicals and waiting. It was really cool to actually develop the photos, though, rather than just have them printed off. I loved doing it.

Did you think anything was particularly hard or easy about the development process?

The easiest part was definitely just pouring in the chemicals and dumping them out. Once I got the film loaded into the tank, it’s a super simple process from there on out.

What advice would you give other teens about shooting and developing film?

1. Learning about aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and all that in my photography class at first seemed confusing, but actually applying while taking my photos made a lot more sense. Don’t be afraid to play around with the settings and try new things out, it really helps you understand how everything works more.
2. Try loading film in the light before you do the actual thing in the dark (obviously with a roll of film you aren’t going to use). It helps.
3. Find someone in the field of film photography to help you out with everything. Ask them questions, have them show you how to do things, etc. Learning things for yourself online is good, but having someone in person to teach you is all the better.

You can see more of Bailey’s photography on her new website. With graduation and moving away to college, I hope Bailey continues to be creative whether it’s through her photography or music. Here are some of Bailey’s favorites from her first roll.

Camera: Olympus OM-1 MD (1974 – 1979)
Film: Ilford HP5 Plus 400
Process: Kodak D-76 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20c
Scanner: Epson Perfection V600 Photo

Thank You

Utah Film Photography has been an interesting adventure. I started this blog 2 years ago to share my experience shooting film and using vintage cameras. To say that I’ve enjoyed myself would be an understatement. It’s introduced me to some fantastic people that have contributed film, gear and a lot of wisdom.

Maurice Greeson – his career on the retail side of the photography industry has given him a love for all things camera related. Maurice has donated film, cameras, advice, knowledge, and everything that has helped me move this blog forward. He’s become a great friend and I value each moment I get to hang out with him. If I ever have a camera or film question/problem, Maurice is my personal wiki.

Scott Smith – encouraged me to shoot film as he himself finished a film and darkroom course at the University of Utah. Scott has donated lenses and has spent several lunch hours with me going over blog ideas and planning our next photo quest. I like to go out shooting with Scott. I always learn something new to try with my own photography.

Mike Williams – my partner in crime. We’ve never actually spoken face-to-face, or on the phone. But we are in constant contact on Facebook and text messages. There’s not a day that goes by that we aren’t talking about cameras, film, and family. Mike has donated film, cameras, and lenses over the past year. He’s been a great source for ideas and projects.

Special thanks: Mars, Caleb, Connor, Big Red, Jacob at Acme Camera, the FPP podcast, the CCR podcast, the 223 Restoration Crew, Special Agent Eric, & Deseret Industries

Film Camera Tracking

Last week I was chatting online with friend and film photographer Mike Williams about tracking film in multiple cameras. Mike knows I have several cameras and was wondering if I had a technique to track the film loaded in each. I keep several cameras loaded with various film types all the time. That’s one of the great things about film photography and using vintage cameras, the variety of film and cameras.

I’ve been using Film Rolls for iOS on my iPhone. This free app is an incredible tool for tracking: cameras, film type, film speed, and when the film was loaded/unloaded. Aside from just tracking the camera and film, you can also get very specific and record each frame, for example: Frame 1 was 50mm, f/1.7, 1/60, +1. The app will also use GPS to mark the location of that frame.

Mike has been using on his Android phone to track his film and cameras. The FilmTrackr website is free, it has simple interface, and it’s easy to use. If you use your phone and log into your account, the mobile version of the website will load with all the same features. The two features I like about FilmTrackr are the option to move film from shooting to Awaiting Development and Awaiting Scanning. The site also has report options so you can track the number of rolls, film types, and cameras you use most often.

Do you have a preferred method or system to track your film and cameras? Please comment below. I’m sure there are multiple apps and websites that need to be shared.


2015: Looking Forward to Film Photography

One of the aspects of my personality is that I enjoy looking forward to specific events. I’m the kind of guy that buys concert tickets the minute they go on sale and then counts down the days to see my favorite band. Having something to look forward to keeps me going. It gives me something to go to bed thinking about and energizes me when I wake up. There are several things happening the world of film photography that I’m looking forward to in 2015.

Film Photography Project

The Film Photography Project last week announced the 2015 FPP Walking Workshop, March 14th & 15th. This annual event is now in its third year. The workshop this year will be two full days in San Clemente, California. The workshop includes a tour of lab, giveaways, prizes, Q&A with The Dark Room owners and staff, Q&A with the Film Photography Project gang, street photography in San Celementa, camera and film demonstrations, and more to be announced. Registration is free, but limited. If you’re thinking about going, make sure to sign up now.

Film Ferrania

In 2014 Film Ferrania launched a Kickstarter project to fund 100 More Years of Analog Film. Working closely with the Italian government, the original factory constructed in 1923 is now being re-assembled to create a new film production facility. Film Ferrania will be producing 35mm and 120mm film, as well as Super 8 and 16mm cine films. Those of us that funded the Kickstarter will be receiving our film this April! #FilmIsAlive

CineStill 120 Rolls

Unfortunately another film Kickstarter campaign went unfunded in 2014, CineStill Medium Format Film. The popularity of using motion picture film in still cameras is on the rise. Along with their 35mm film, CineStill wanted to produce tungsten balanced, 800 ISO, medium format 120mm film. The film quality gives photos an incredible cinematic look. Even though the 120mm film won’t be produced by CineStill, I don’t think the market and desire are going to go away. There’s been a lot of talk about Kodak Vision 3 film online that originally inspired CineStill. I believe someone in 2015 is going to make 120 cinematic film. I plan to shoot some CineStill 35mm this year.

I’m looking forward to executing many ideas I have for Utah Film Photography this year. I have numerous rolls of film, new vintage cameras, and exciting gear to review in 2015. We’re also planning a Utah Film Photowalk and some guest posts from local film photographers.

What are you looking forward to in film photography this year?


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When Creativity Happens

As I’ve been updating this site, I know when I sit down on Sunday night and create the post for the following day and plan for the week ahead, I’m going to be more successful. Why? For me, creativity happens on Sunday night. This is something I’ve struggled with since 1998. I say struggle because Sunday night isn’t usually the most convenient time to create or work on something. What’s important is I realized every Sunday evening, my creativity is at its peak. I don’t understand why, but I’m glad I was able to quickly recognize what was happening and use it for something positive. Maybe after having a relaxing weekend or being able to reflect back on the week I’m able to process how to move forward with a project. Or how to execute and pull the trigger on something like this website. Why bring this up, here and now? Creativity goes beyond just any particular hobby. While a hobby is great, I think it’s important for everyone to have some type of creative outlet. Something you enjoy that allows you to pull a concept from your mind and make it original, make it yours. For my wife, it’s family scrapbooks and gardening. My oldest son enjoys drawing. My youngest son creates inventions. And for my mother and mother in-law, it’s quilting. Of course, for me and many people reading this, its photography.

Have you ever met someone that seems to ooze with creativity? Someone who is so incredibly talented that they just can’t seem to shut it off? When I’m around someone like this, I know the first two ways I instinctively respond. First, be jealous or envious that they have an ability I don’t. Second, find a way to notice an imperfection with them or their work. Truthfully, it’s hard at times, but I have to remind myself that everyone has God given talents. Each of us matters. And honestly we should surround ourselves with those that ooze creativity. They can inspire, teach us (knowing or unknowingly), and make us better at our own craft. While I have a ton to learn about film photography, I look around for inspiration and knowledge. I hope that someone else’s creative process or work moves me forward. And as these precious gifts come to me, I can do the same for someone else.

I’m going to throw out this challenge for anyone reading this. Whether you want to respond with a comment or not is up to you, though I would really love to read what others think. What is your creative outlet? What does creativity mean to you? What does it do for you? How do you share your creativity? Please, share your thoughts.

Film as an Artistic Medium

There’s been a YouTube video making its way around social media the past few months that describes why film photography will never disappear as an artistic medium. I’ve spent the last hour searching for this video and can’t find it, so let me summarize.

In the era of digital photography, there are an incredible and unlimited amount of options for artists to create. And because of this, some think that film photography will completely fade away at some point. If this is true then we must also think that it’s entirely possible for an artist to create any type of work, photography or otherwise, digitally. I don’t foresee a future where canvas and oil paints are obsolete like some have predicted for film. If artists selected nothing but a digital medium, why have colored pencils, paint brushes, sketch books, and watercolors? If it’s so simple for a digital medium to replace analog, why have acoustic guitars? Can you imagine your favorite classical music piece, composed for an orchestra, played entirely by a single digital device? Can you imagine visiting an art museum where all the pieces are displayed on a screen?

I know, I’m pushing this towards the extreme, but my point is this. Film will always be around as a choice for photographers. Yes, it may come in limited supplies and used by fewer artists due to expense.  That’s what makes film even more important now than it was in the past. Shooting analog in a digital world is not easy or cheap. For the artists that use it, it’s just as rewarding as creating a masterpiece with a paintbrush and canvas.

Who Are You? Why Film? Why Now?

This is one of those moments where you attempt to accomplish something, but you have so much that you want to do, you don’t know where to start. Let me begin with who I am and what direction I want for Utah Film Photography. I’m Shaun Nelson, a photographer from South Ogden, Utah, USA. I originally took up photography 14 years ago when my oldest son was born. I consider myself part of the new generation of photographers in the way that I started shooting digital. It’s all I’ve known until the last year. Prior to digital, I had no experience or desire to shoot film. In October 2013, Jacob Nuttall from Acme Camera Company was demonstrating an old Polaroid Land Camera 250 at a Studio o2o Creative Exchange. I was honestly shocked at the beauty and contrast of the black and white images coming out of the vintage camera. Two weeks later, I bought my first Land Camera. In December, my wife gave me an old Canon A1 for Christmas. From that point forward, I’ve been buying vintage cameras and shooting film for fun. Since January 2014, I’ve collected over 25 film cameras. At times it’s made my wife very nervous that I’ve immersed myself into something so quickly. My feeling about my camera collection is simple: I won’t buy a camera that I can’t put film in and use. Museum pieces are nice, just like classic cars and comic books, but I want to take them out and enjoy them. Along with collecting the cameras, I’ve found a lot of satisfaction researching them and learning about them. There are so many fantastic stories behind companies, specific camera models, and the people who made them. In many ways, it’s a new culture of creativity that’s been opened to me. And I want everyone that loves photography, film or digital, to feel the same. That’s why I’ve created this site.

Shaun Nelson – March 2014
Self-portrait inspired by Kenneth Linge and Uncle Fester.

This site isn’t about film versus digital. It’s not about who won the photography war, megapixels or silver halide. It’s about preserving what is becoming a fading art. It’s about sharing, inspiring, and having fun. The desires I have for this site can be found on the About page. This site will feature articles written by myself and special guests. If you visit Utah Film Photography and see something that you’ve known for years, or though experience, and recognize information needs to be added or corrected, I ask that you be patient with those who are just starting their own understanding of film photography. I invite you to share your own thoughts here, on Facebook and Twitter. This site will not be a negative experience for the content creators, casual readers, and participants.

Why start another site about film photography? Let me attempt to explain with a lame analogy. Remember the first time you heard your favorite band or singer? Do you remember wanting to share a specific song with your friends or family? It’s an exciting moment. As time passes we don’t typically wake up one day and stop liking that band or specific style of music. We might enjoy other types of music, add new genres to our collection, but that favorite band continues to stay with us, year-after-year, decade-after-decade. Even when that band has broken up, some members have passed away or entered rehab for the 10th time, we love that one particular song or album. If you know me on a personal level, you might think I’ve engaged in an expensive, eccentric, or trendy hobby. That’s not true. With this site, I want to share my own experience and discoveries with film photography. Talking about film photography and vintage cameras is exciting to me. Just like the excitement I had when I came upon my favorite band and music, I wanted to share it. That’s how I feel about photography.