top of page


The bottom of the fridge door.

Most of my overseas travels from Australia over the years have been for the purpose of presenting conference papers. They are usually short trips, for not being able to take too much time off work, and so just when I’ve recovered from the jet lag associated with two long haul flights, I have to pack my bags to come home. It can be brutal but rewarding for being able to meet a lot of like-minded people. My ninth trip overseas in the space of twelve years was to London in September 2018. All the earlier trips had been to Europe, and this was my first trip to the UK. I organised it so that I would be there for about a week before presenting, coming back home the next day. Mornings were spent writing in a coffee shop in Bernard Street, Bloomsbury, opposite the Russell Street Tube Station. At least I tried writing. I spent most of the time just looking out the window, watching the world pass by. I even saw two friends of mine from Adelaide walk past the window but couldn’t run out and rush after them for fear of having all my stuff that was strewn all over the table stolen.

Here, actually :)

Walking is one of the best ways I know to deal with jet lag, and so I made sure to take my digital SLR camera and an old mid-1950s Kodak Brownie Cresta, to take photographs along the way.

One of these, actually :)

Three years later in September 2021, after seeing a Facebook memory appear on my timeline which included a digital photograph that I took of my hotel room when I arrived, I remembered that I had taken the Brownie Cresta with me to London and that I had taken some rolls of film with it. I took two rolls of 120 format film while I was there, but then completely forgot about them when I returned.

In amongst all the drama of presenting the paper in 2018, the family history research, the second visit to London in 2019, and the beginning of the pandemic—not to mention a busy teaching schedule—I had completely forgotten wandering around taking photos with the analogue camera on the first trip. I simply put the undeveloped rolls in the fridge along with an accumulating collection of other exposed films. This is bizarre, considering how crucial walking London’s city streets with an analogue camera had become to the research. It’s like 2018 Andrew left a present for 2021 Andrew.

When I saw the Facebook memory photograph of my hotel room in London on the day that I got there, and saw the camera sitting on the bed next to my bag, I had a look for other digital photos of the hotel room and found a hotel room mirror selfie that I took on the last day that I was there, in which the camera is on the table next to the mirror—with two rolls of exposed film next to it. I looked at the box of exposed rolls of film in the fridge and found a dozen rolls, two of which were taken in London, so I set about developing them.

In wandering around London, I took both digital and film photos often of the same things, so the metadata on the digital files tells me when the film photographs were taken. Importantly, I’m able to quickly recognise where the photographs were taken so that I can then map out the routes that I took, and can use google maps and street view to develop more information regarding orientation and movement. All this extra data sits alongside the fleeting memories that I have of walking around.

I’m interested in how the slow process of developing a roll of film differs from digital in the way that it instigates remembering. Digital photography certainly triggers remembering, but for obvious reasons it has a different materiality and it’s the specific materiality of an object that triggers some forms of remembering more than others. The handling of rolls of film is different—more complex—than the handling of an SD card. This isn’t a statement of quality, of better or worse, but of complexity and presence. The film was there then in the camera in the place in which the photograph was taken. Granted, like the files on an SD card the analogue negative images are then transferred either to photographic paper or scanned into a computer, however it’s the presence of the ‘thingness’ of film (for want of a better term) that instigates this different form of remembering.

Even though the Kodak Brownie Cresta is a simple point and shoot camera to use, with a nice large 6x6cm negative, the relatively slow shutter speed means that many of the photos are a bit blurred. Apart from the first photo, taken whilst sitting on the lawn in Russell Square, I'm happy with most of them.

I'm going to delete and rewrite this post in the near future. I'm new to this whole website thing, and I'm learning about what I can do with it.

All writing and images © Andrew Dearman

32 views0 comments


bottom of page