This here is it. After what feels like an interminable time in a digital world, this is the real shit.

October 18th, 2013, 10pm

It was 15°C. The wind was calm.

I’m a professional pixel peeper. It’s what I do. I love it, too; being able to rip into an image and deconstruct it technically is fun enough; getting paid to do it is amazing.

But I’m a professional photographer too. And when I’m done deconstructing something pixel by pixel, there’s this ridiculously powerful need to step back and see the picture for the pixels. Sometimes, that means ditching the pixels altogether, in favor of grain. Leave the silicon behind for acetate and emulsion. Get away from Lightroom and enter the darkroom.

“There’s nothing like the smell of Dektol in the morning.”

It’s a stupid quote. I know it. Especially since I don’t much care for the smell of Dektol or fixer or any darkroom chemical, really. I just like the tangibility of it. I like the process, and I love the end-result. The moment of truth when you crack open the reel and unspool the neg and hold it up to the light is just fucking awesome.

Shooting and developing film is cathartic. It’s creative fuel. No, screw that. It’s like getting a shot of opiates right as your withdrawal symptoms are at their worst. It’s a Fentanyl drip you can trigger on demand.

And hell, HC-110 don’t smell that bad.

Adrian, Jordan and Cassie said thanks.

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Sohail Mamdani

I am a writer and photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Follow me on Twitter (@sohail), Facebook ( or Google+ ( You can find my portfolio on my website at as well as on 500px (sohailmamdani) and Flickr (sohailmamdani).

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