Being Married to a Film Photographer

The light in our apartment is dim. The living room has only one window which, although it faces east, does so directly at our neighbors apartment. We experience directly sunlight for only a couple of hours a day, and more often than not it’s dark. Late in the day, from the shadows of the living room my wife said, “you should do an article about what it’s like to be married to a film photographer.” 

I dismissed her quickly saying, “psshhhhh, it’s just like being married to a regular photographer.” From the corner of the room I could see her eyes start to glow like something from a horror film. The room lit up as the light fixtures began to buzz from the energy my wife’s stare created. “No, it’s not like being married to a regular photographer,” she assured me with an intensity that made me question whether or not she had been married before though I know she hasn’t. 

Nikon F5 | Tamron 150-600 | Ilford HP5+ ISO320 | © Cameron Kline 

My wife is sure that when we met I had only one camera. She tells me this time and time again, so often in fact that I start to believe her. She says that when I really started to shoot more film, that is when the cameras started to multiply. In truth I had four cameras when we met: a Mamiya RB67, a Mamiya 645 ProTL, a Canon 5D, and a Hasselblad 500c/m which we took on one of our first dates. The only camera she recalls me having is the Hasselblad. 

The cameras have come and gone over the years, and one thing we can agree upon is that it’s grown since we met thought the actual numbers are up for debate. According to my wife the number of cameras in the house isn’t the only issue with being married to a film photographer, but the direct impact film has on her bathroom routine is substantial. 

No longer can a woman just blow dry her hair. My wife knows that film being hung to dry means that her hair will be air drying, a problem not encountered in a digital household. The film also drys while hanging over the shower so that means there will be no showering either, and no, I can’t just go in there and touch the film to see if it’s dry. 

Shelf space in the bathroom is at a premium now as well. We’ve downsized in the past year, and so the shelves are organized as follows: Hair ties and bobby pins in a basket on the top row, towels for guests behind them, hair brushes and combs in an adjacent basket on the same shelf. The middle, and lower shelves in out bathroom are explicitly reserved for: Hewes stainless steel reels, my juju infused Omega tanks, miscellaneous plastic jugs which are always mislabeled, and finally raw chemistry waiting to be mixed. 

The bathroom habits aren’t the only thing that’s different in the analog household. My wife and I now call out items in the refrigerator based on what film type they’re next to. “Could you bring me some mustard,” I might say, “it’s next to that last two rolls of Tri-X on the bottom shelf.” Early in the relationship, when you’re trying to put on your best faces for one another she’d probably giggle at that comment and roll her eyes playfully. Now she knows that I am serious, and slides the Kodak Portra 400 pro packs out the the way looking for the Tri-X and mustard.  

Our relationship is largely a give and take. We compliment each other very nicely in this way, and it’s one of the qualities in our relationship for which I am most thankful. Being that we are equals we support each other in our passions and interests, and so when she approached me about diffusing essential oils I told her she absolutely should. We diffuse Stress Away, Peace and Calming, Clarity, and Joy. I’ve been informed recently that film photography has intruded on the essential oils as the smell of stop bath and fixer are often in the air at the same time negating any effects the oils might have. 

“I’m diffusing 'Joy' right now, can the fixer wait?” she’ll ask me to which the only response is “developing film makes me joyful, maybe we can both experience joy at the same time,” I respond. “That would be a first,” she says in response. Well played, I think to myself. 

The sting of her comment lasts only a moment because I notice she has a clipping of 35mm film stuck to the bottom of her foot. I think for a moment about telling her, but decide that maybe she’s right, and that living with a film photographer is different. I’d never admit it though. 

More than once I’ve told my wife “this is why such and such a photographer never married,” but in truth there’s no one I’d rather hear complain about my archival gloves left laying around than her. If anyone is going to “accidentally” move my film while it’s drying, it might as well be her too. So, on a day dedicated to love and appreciation I have to thank my wife. Without you I’d never know the difference in the lives of analog and digital marriages, and I’d probably wind up on the show Hoarders


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Cameron Kline is a San Diego based photographer and the founder of The Film Shooters Collective. When he's not in the doghouse you can connect with him on or Twitter