Nearly Two Decades Ago

One of the things I love about film photography is how it gives me a good sense of my exact feelings at precise moments in time. Depending on the film stock and camera I used, looking at old film photos takes me back in ways that I don’t experience with other types of photos I have taken in the past.

I know, for example, from the low light and lack of sharpness in these first few photos that I was just beginning to learn about film photography, and that I frequently used film stock that was not ‘right’ for the light conditions.

a scan of a color photograph of a bus stop in Singapore around 2006

I know from the photo of the bus stop that this is in 2004 exactly, because I have been taking a bus from this bus stop my entire life and can tell from the way the shelter and seats and ads are set up, that it was when I was heading to university. I also know that I was probably late (because no one is waiting here and it’s way past rush hour, so I’ve definitely overslept, again.)

a scan of a color photo of a woman sitting outside a mosque in singapore with lots of shoes behind her

I can tell from this photo of a woman sitting outside a mosque in Little India, Singapore, that this was when I was experimenting with plastic, toy cameras. I came to this area very often for food, and often walked past this mosque.

a scan of a color photo of grass and dark blue sky in a low lit photo, with buildings in the background

I know from looking at this photo that it was in the early 00s. This wide open space no longer exists in Singapore. Every inch of open space now has several buildings on it. The tallest building in the background anchors me and lets me know exactly where I was when I took this photo: my cousins lived in that building.

a scan of a color photo of a prison in Cambodia

This photo was taken with my first ‘real’ camera, which was a Nikon F-601 SLR. I used it to take photos on my first ‘real’ trip abroad, where I traveled to Thailand and Cambodia overland (by bus and taxi and train and motorbike). As part of that trip, I saw some atrocities (Cambodia has a horrible recent history, as demonstrated by the window of Tuol Sleng prison here). I also some great beauty.

a scan of a color photo of monks at Angkor Wat in Cambodia smiling at a structure

Like the gorgeous architecture of the temples of Angkor.

Increasingly, I started to have more and more nice cameras and film things. I also got to go on more trips.

a scan of a black and white photo of a building in taiwan with ads for tuition centers

Taiwan was a firm favorite. It was so close, and always so fun. I miss it.

a scan of a black and white photo of a person

I even have a photographic record of my unfortunate couple of years where I dressed only in hippie pants and sandals. Here, a self-portrait in Melaka, Malaysia.

I feel so lucky to have been able to experience that part of the world and to have called it home, and that I always had my camera(s) with me.

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Adrianna Tan @skinnylatte
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