Story and photography by Ethan Meleg
My name is Ethan Meleg and I am a photograholic. It’s been 10 years since I picked up a roll of film and my life has never been better since giving it up and going pure digital. You see, I was addicted to film at one time, for an entire decade of my life. And it nearly ruined me.
It all began quite innocently. Like many other photograholics, I started out dabbling in print film socially every once in a while at special occasions, such as birthday parties and holidays. During vacations, I would recreationally shoot two or three rolls, at most. But my craving for film steadily grew and it wasn’t long before I would shoot film pretty much every week. I also began using it by myself more and more frequently.
Print film was merely a gateway to more serious films. One day a photographer “friend” gave me a roll of slide film to try. That one roll of Fuji Velvia 50, with its vividly seductive hues, caused me to become instantly addicted. The natural world had never looked so amazing before Velvia. Super-saturation became my new reality and I couldn’t live without it. I started buying Velvia in big quantities and spending all of my money on it. To afford the addiction I even resorted to rolling my own for a while. Boxes of slide film soon displaced all of the food in my fridge and freezer. Eating was secondary to seeing the world under the influence of Velvia.
Although I experimented with higher-speed films occasionally when I needed a boost, Velvia 50 remained my film of choice for nearly a decade. At the height of my film use, I was spending about $10,000 a year on it, and barely had enough money left over to make the mortgage payments on my house. I had a serious problem and there appeared to be no way out. Or was there?
Digital cameras entered the photography world at that time and hardcore photograholics, such as myself, desperately hoped there was a chance this new technology would catch on. The photo gods must have been looking out for me, because it wasn’t long before the megapixels of DSLR cameras exceeded the quality of 35mm film. Thus came an abrupt end to my addiction to Velvia slide film. I gave up film cold turkey and began living my life as a digital photograholic. Today, when I look back on that dark and saturated chapter of my life in the BD (before digital) era, it’s a wonder I survived at all.
To read more of Ethan’s columns and other great how-to articles please pick up the Spring/Summer 2014 issue of OPC today, or subscribe!