In your bag No: 1581 – Paul Petch

Paul has rekindled that silver halide fire and has even snuck it back into his professional work flow.

I’m having a bit of a personal film renaissance currently. I thought it was. Bubbling midlife crisis, but after hanging on for 6 years- on and off- it’s more than that. Having grown up in the 1980’s – 1990’s I remember film quite well. By remembering I mean point and shoots.

I’ve worked as a freelance commercial shooter and designer for nearly 20 years now. I suppose I’m one of the 10% who has made some kind of living from it. I won’t lie- it’s a tough way to make a living- but very rewarding when it all flows and work is being produced.

I’ve always shot lots of personal work but in 2017 after years in the commercial world of photography I had kind of hit a creative wall. I won’t bore you with the personal sob story- but I was not sure if I wanted to continue as a photographer. Switching my focus back to a more creative approach through film and also enrolling (at 43) into a Fine Arts Degree (my second degree) put me back on track and helped me focus back on what makes me happy. Creating.

What do I like to shoot mostly? Well I love making a commercial job work when there are so many factors to consider- such as light, location, talent, style, wardrobe, goals of brief and of course my own unique take. But aside from that and more on a personal note- people and their place through urbanism. I also have a tendency for minimalism in my work- or simplify the scene/message.  I also have mixed projects underway and an ongoing narrative of how digital technology, the system, rules and authority are controlling society. What can I say? I’m a 1990’s kid at heart.

So how I did I re-discover film? (I remember shooting 35mm point and shoots pre year 2K Digital meltdown) Well, in 2012 I used an Olympus OMD EM5 for personal street shooting and really fell for the more filmic look of files as well as the smaller retro form factor. I then decided to invest back into film and In about 2012 when I picked up a Yashica 635 from Ebay. I had no idea what I was getting myself into other than wanting to explore this new world. Who the heck was Yashica? What was 120m film? Medium format? TLR? You get the point. The rest is history.

A mix of cameras then joined my collection but I have a personal mantra of using gear not collecting- so settled on the Yashica 635, Olympus OM1, various $10 or less 35mm point and shoots, and recently the Canon EOS 3. 

I use them all regularly for personal and now more paid work. I often leave home with no phone, digital camera or devices- and just shoot film. It really is a great space. I suppose I’m a ‘hybrid shooter’ with 95% of my commercial work being captured on Canon 5D MK3’s and mostly lit off camera- and my film being used for everything else.

I am relatively new to film photography when all things are considered. I like the challenge and pace it offers. I like how it is so disruptive in this digitally driven world, I love how different the whole process and results are. I love how you seem to take more time connecting with the subject to work out their ‘thing’ for the portrait vs shoot and look- repeat.

I’m experimenting with a few new cameras at present that may or may not stay in my everyday collection. One stand out has been the Olympus Olympus MJU2- that for me suits black and white film perfectly. What a nice little camera. 

Film wise, Portra 160 or 400 in both 120 and 35mm is my favourite colour film. TMax is my favourite black. I am keen to try more films- but feel time spent with a few matters more than swapping and changing.

I use a local developer at present who offers affordable and quick 35mm and 120 C41 processing- but sends black and white to Wellington. I can literally shoot a model in the morning and deliver scans (I use an Epson V550) the same day. This is amazing and has really been the catalyst for me taking film more seriously in a commercial sense.

My carry around bag will often change depending how I feel or the stuff I’m shooting. Yesterday I shot some fashion for a local agency on my only medium format camera – and the one that started it all for me- the Yashica 635 and Portra 400.  I also took the ESOS 3 with 50mm 1.2 glass and shot a roll of TMax 100. The process is not slow when you gun through 36 frames on the EOS 3 :) What a feeling!!!

I also carry my business cards, light meter (sometimes one just on my phone), a few rolls of film, wireless headphones from AIAIAI (amazing btw!), note book and pen for those ideas which come from nowhere, and the bag itself being a basic Manfrotto messenger.

Film’s future looks bright as we stand right now. I’m officially in from expired film to hunting sharp perfect exposures. What a great time in history really. Time for some Pearl Jam and a walk with my camera.

Personal work:

Commercial work:



Thanks for sending us your bag shot Paul. It’s awesome that you’ve managed to make film work professionally again.

Keep them coming folks, we need more submissions, so get your bag on

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