Église Saint Trophime, Arles – Éric Petr, 2024 | Nikon F3T, Nikkor H85 f1.8 & Ilford Delta 100

In the 90s, I stopped photography after ten years of passion.

In those years, digital photography arrived and supplanted film photography in just a few years.
A tidal wave that shook an entire industry. All photographers will have something to say about this era, often recounting a painful moment.

For my part, a great sadness seized me. I buried my equipment and my work as if to forget forever this passion for which I had devoted so much time and for which everything seemed to disappear forever.

Ten years later, I slowly returned to the image scene like an addict returning to his drug. 

It was with the Nikon Df, in 2013, that I rediscovered the lost pleasures of film photography.
This camera seemed to me to be the closest thing to silver-based practice, not in the process, but rather in the way it felt to take the shot. Nikon Df is the kind of substitute that photograhpy addicts can take to fool their bodies and minds. But of course, the feeling is deceptive and, despite everything, unsatisfactory.

It had to come to this, to close the loop and, to bring out the old gear from the 80s, recapture the divine sensations of silver halide and continue the journey with our first loves. 

Today, I no longer take pleasure in digital technology, and it is essential for me to continue my quest where my raft ran aground.

⚪️ Click on the images to see them in silver grain detail ⚪️

On the way to Arles – Éric Petr, 2024 | Nikon F3T, Nikkor NC24 f2.8 & Ilford Delta 100

It is probably difficult for many people to understand this relationship with film photography. But film photography is an extraordinary tool!

Once you’ve got the hang of it, you will feel like you have gone from a modern car to a vintage one, without any further assistance. 

You shoot and do not have to worry about checking whether your photo was actually taken. Your gesture and technique with film must be beyond reproach, otherwise all your images will be lost forever.
Silver halide is a technique with no net and no room for error.
Concentration is total and the choice to shoot takes on its full value and meaning.
Your choice of film will depend on the type of work you want to achieve, and the same goes for developing the film, with the different developers and exposure times that will bring a particular style to your image.

And then there is the grain of film! This magnificent grain is not the result of the digital recording of electromagnetic waves through a low-pass filter, but of the photochemical process of exposing light to an emulsion of silver halide crystals. 

The plastic result is so different! 

Approach, enter, zoom into a silver image and see these clouds of crystals in infinite colors or shades of gray, like the dots in an etching or the particles that make up stellar clusters. 

Feel the beauty of the silver image!

Self-portrait – Éric Petr, 2024 | Nikon F3T, Nikkor NC24 f2.8 & Ilford Delta 100

Over the last few years, I have been amazed and delighted to see that silver-based photography is gradually making a comeback, not as a mass-market application, but as an alternative creative practice.

Generally taken up by young people curious about the medium, traditional photography has risen from the ashes to occupy the artistic field, and many associated activities have developed in parallel, such as laboratories for developing film and prints on photosensitive paper, training courses in silver photography, small publishing houses dedicated to the authors of this old photography with a fresh eye, as well as numerous stores selling second-hand equipment and silver film of all types.

So, in the 21st century, silver or digital photography?

Beyond this choice, photography is a commitment, a way of seeing, feeling and describing the world around us.