Levi’s Community Workshop | Adventures in Film

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A couple months ago, Levi’s (yes, as in the jeans) opened an amazing community resource in downtown, New York City. A free photography workshop. Free classes, free printing services, free computer labs, free studio space, and even an entire array of vintage cameras available for 24 hour rentals– for free! Yes, it’s real, and it’s amazing. The Levi’s Community Workshop. The only catch is that it’s only open until this Saturday, December 18. So New Yorkers, please do yourselves a favor and go right now.

When I visited New York for Thanksgiving, the Levi’s Workshop was obviously at the top of the destinations list. I went with my boyfriend Ernie, and after we wandered around a bit and played with the photobooth, we each took out one camera to play with. For Ernie, one Fujifilm Instax, Fuji’s answer to the discontinued Polaroid. It’s cute and white, and it takes little mini instant pictures. And for me, a FED– an old USSR 35mm manual camera that is weighted like a brick. This particular camera also had the unfortunate feature of a faulty viewfinder so that you were left shooting blindly. And it also had no light meter, which left me using my digital point and shoot as an approximation and also just wildly guessing at settings, with mixed effects.

I might post some of the Instax photos tomorrow, but for now, here are some samples of the good ole 35mm black and white film I shot! Shoutout to Oscar’s Photo Lab in SF for developing these images (and the 120mm ones as well), though they messed up my first order, they did fix it in the end!

Looking at these strips of film really brings me back to my high school darkroom photography days.

Museum of Chinese in America

Did I mention it was pouring rain that day? This looks very much like a cold, rainy New York day.

The garage door to the Levi’s Photo Workshop.

Inside, a whole wall of photobooth images and other photographs printed at the workshop.

And finally, Ernie…

…and me! Braving the cold rainy day.

Once again, I love embracing the uncertainty and imperfections of shooting with a film camera like this. I’m amazed any of these turned out with my blindly guessing at the focus and the exposure on every frame. And you can definitely bet that I’ve added a film camera to my ever expanding wishlist!

If you’re in New York, please go visit the Levi’s Workshop before it closes in 2 days! You’ll be so glad you did.