A beautiful new reference manual for shooting film

New illustrated book Analogue Photography brings the established principles of using film to a new audience and reflects the ongoing re-interest in the medium

Published by ars-imago, Analogue Photography is the product of a 21st-century rediscovery of a 20th-century media and a trans-European collaboration steered by a British designer based in New York.

Written, designed and illustrated by Andrew Bellamy, the book is essentially a “reference manual for shooting film” and is designed to appeal to – and help instruct – those with an interest in a way of making images that has experienced a revival in recent years.

Bellamy launched ilottvintage.com in 2010, principally as a resource for fans of film photography and rangefinder cameras. In 2015 he expanded the ‘glossary’ section of the site into a short-run book, which was picked up by Vetro Editions in Berlin and has now been published in a larger edition by the Rome-based ars-imago.

It also boasts a foreword by Florian Kaps of SuperSense, a man who knows a thing or two about reviving film products – he cofounded the Impossible Project and the resulting company, Polaroid Originals.

While the design of the book references vintage technical manuals the intent is very much in keeping with the current re-interest in film photography, which has also seen brands like Kodak returning to the market.

According to the publishers, a recent survey of film users by Ilford revealed that “nearly one third were under the age of 35. So it seems that an ever-growing demographic of film-lovers grew up with digital, and are coming to analogue for the first time.”

Ars-imago claim there are several reasons for the increasing appeal of film to today’s photographers. “For professional and amateur photographers alike, film offers a chance to stand out from the crowd,” says the publisher. “Then there is the visual impact of film photography, so much richer and engaging than digital. Also crucial is the process: shooting with film is slower, more artistic, more thoughtful.”

Bellamy produced all the photography and illustrations in the book and also designed the custom typeface, 35-FTR, which is used throughout (and now available at myfonts.com).

“I set about making a font that had the style of Futura [in keeping with the look of vintage manuals], but that could be set tightly more like Helvetica to be able to increase the point size without increasing the page count,” he says.

Analogue Photography focuses specifically on mechanical cameras manufactured between the mid-1930s and the late 1960s, with the fundamental technical sides of both cameras and photography covered. The book is divided into six sections: General Nomenclature; Lenses; Speeds & Exposure; Effects of Aperture & Shutter Speed; Rangefinders & SLRs; and Film & Filters.

“There are, however, no tips on how to take ‘better’ photos, no sections on lines and shapes, silhouettes, texture or composition,” Bellamy writes in the book’s introduction. “This is purely a technical manual: once you have mastered the mechanics of photography, you will have total creative control over your camera, a tool for taking photos exactly as you want them.”

Bellamy’s knowledge of the medium – coupled with his recognition of the design sensibilities that go with it – has resulted in a great-looking publication and a fantastic place from which to start, or rekindle, a journey into film photography.

Analogue Photography is published by ars-imago (£18). More details at ars-imago.com