Thailand on Film, with the Rolleiflex 3.5F

Guest Author: Todd Korol

I know a trip is going to be great when I head over to The Camera Store and buy a big bag of black and white film. For me, that’s how a really good trip starts. I was headed to Thailand, a country high on my list for years, to explore its temples, its various landscapes, and of course to meet, what I was to find out, some of the friendliest people anywhere. Thailand is a varied landscape with more than 35,000 Buddhist temples. I wanted to photograph some of them, along with the people I met on my travels.

Our first stop was Bangkok, home to 11 million people and the second most visited city in the world. Bangkok is a new thriving cosmopolitan mega city in Asia, where you can still get an amazing meal and beers on the street for two for $8.00 Canadian.

You can spend days roaming the glittery main streets of Bangkok and its small alleyways full of colourful shops. Why did I shoot black and film then, was a question my wife asked me. Well, colour is everything, black and white is more!

I wanted to capture the tones, mood and feeling of the cities and stops we made along the way. I wanted to take portraits of people and not be distracted by their colourful surroundings. In short, I wanted to try something a little different, as millions of colour images are produced weekly in that lovely country.

We crisscrossed the country for a month with stops in Kanchanaburi where the Bridge On The River Kwai is. We travelled north to Chiang Mai, known for amazing food.

We volunteered at an elephant rescue sanctuary where they rescue abused elephants and we got to help feed and care for them. We travelled south to Phuket and stayed in the laid-back old town. From there we traveled by boat to a few of the many islands that dot the Andaman Sea.

For our final days, we travelled back north to the ancient city of Ayutthaya, which dates to the 1400s. Our last days were spent roaming around Bangkok discovering some of the great film camera stores the city has to offer. The film community in Thailand is alive and well.

In all, I went through 46 rolls of black and white medium format film in my Rolleiflex, 3.5F. Using mostly the Rolleiflex on this trip, it was a great camera to break the ice with the locals. People loved to look at it and see how it worked.

Coming home my first stop was another trip to The Camera Store for some black and white developer, paper and paper chemicals. I spend three days developing all of my film and making contact sheets of each roll on Ilford paper. After all, I had to do something in the middle of the night fighting off the jet lag.

Being able to have The Camera Store in town, which still has film and darkroom supplies, makes it a lot easier to practice the craft of film photography. In the end, we took over 700 video clips of our travels to produce a YouTube video of our photographic journey. If you ever get a chance to go to Thailand, do it. You will not regret it.

Click here to shop The Camera Store's Film & Darkroom collection!

Black & white filmFilm photography