The Rollei 35 first caught my eye a couple years ago when a creative I follow first flaunted hers. I was intrigued as I watched her carefully unconsolidate the camera, which was only about as big as her palm. The lens slid out from apparently no where, and there was so little pomp and fuss about the whole thing that I thought to myself that I would like one, too.
I probably watched the video a dozen times, zooming in an out, curious about a Rollei that was so unlike my TLR. However, further research revealed that it was scale-focus only (you have to guess, essentially) and some found it difficult to use. Since film is $$$$, the pure spirit of experimentation this camera offered seemed more risky than adventurous. I shelved the pursuit and forgot about it.
Then, earlier this year as I scrolled Facebook Marketplace, one caught my eye. Even more enticingly, it appeared in mint condition.
I’ve been going through an artistic slump at the moment, feeling relatively uninspired and discontent. Not quite sure what I actually want to create, I look at what fellow creatives are making around me and feel left out and jealous that I’m not doing the same.
Which means to say, what first deterred me from this camera — experimentation — now seemed like an invitation to step out and try something I wanted for myself, as opposed to something I wanted to do to fit in. Plus, when I learned the backstory to this camera (supposedly, the previous owner was a president of RCA Records — can you imagine the photos it took in its past life?!), I couldn’t say no.
It’s been mine for barely a few weeks, but I’ve already developed the first roll. These are straight scans on Fuji 400h (which, to my deep chagrin, is being discontinued). The goal was not perfection but an act of worship: To see the beauty in the everyday and to practice joy and gratitude for it.
Locations: St. Helena, CA; Golden Gate Park; my backyard.
I am a San Francisco Bay Area film photographer specialising in the floral portrait, families, love stories, and (personal) brands. Want to work together? Get in touch! I’d love to know your story. If you need fine art prints & posters to decorate your home, check out my print shop!
Francophile; lover of ice cream, ballet flats, and skirts with pockets. Photographing light, life, and JOY in San Francisco and Paris with my film cameras, Norman and Cecil.