Shooting film has saved my mind as a photographer and creative. And here is why. It is the thrill and zen-like practice of shooting acetate film on all manual cameras. I will say it right now. Getting back into shooting film for the past year has made me a “better” photographer. Why and how you ask? Wouldn’t shooting a outdated medium when all this new fast and convenient technology be the way of the “modern” working photographer? I love technology, I love when something comes out to make a difficult task a little bit easier. But what is photography? Is it s difficult task? Is it an inconvenience? It shouldn't be.
You see, we as a culture have become so caught up in having things instantaneous and easy to show and share with those around us. I love how that can connect people (I Instagram at least four times a day.) But at its purest form, the process of making an image is best when it is thought out, executed with care and time. Shooting film has slowed my fast and distracted mind down so I can almost feel and taste when an image will present itself or when it is just the right moment to press that shutter. It has taught me more about composition and exposure than any class or tutorial ever will. It has made my senses heightened and not just my sight or understanding of how light works, but my smell and hearing as well. Manually changing the dials and aperture ring on a camera is a connection that you can feel from the tips of your fingers all the way up your body transcended to the image created in your mind. Confidently knowing what a photo will come out like without “chimping away” at a tiny LCD screen is bliss. Yeah sometimes your shot will be a little under exposed or a little off focus but when you get those negatives back and there is that one image that you created a week ago in that batch looking just how you thought it would I can say it is the most rewarding feeling.
Another reason for shooting film is just the way the images “look” themselves. Nothing digital captures color and natural light like celluloid does. To me it feels more real and has weight to it that digital just can’t offer. I’ve played around with manipulating my digital files to give them a more “film” look but nothing I can do comes close. Because I always know its a lie. I myself have gotten tired of seeing all the presets for making images have a more vintage or “film” look because it is all lies. I can instantly tell a real film image from a digital one. Now don’t get me wrong I love when a person can make a digital image emulate acetate but why would they do so when they can could have shot it on film in the first place? I believe it comes down to laziness and not being confident enough. Shooting film has made me more confident in lighting and given me a want to make an image better. I focus a lot more on throwing away the bad ones and waiting for the good ones. This can be translated into all fields of photography. When I first started shooting concerts I would take up to 100 sometimes 300 shots a show. I'd get roughly 30 keeper. (Which I still do digitally) Now I’m down to about 50 and I get about 30 keepers out of those. Shooting film has given me more perspective on what will be a more appealing image and what is just another shot.
I'm excited to shoot jobs on film. It has given me a confidence in my craft that has saved my sanity as a photographer. My film cameras have soul. Yes they are still just a tool, another black box. But the chemistry is there. The burning of light to celluloid is so magically simple.
Also in shooting film I have begun to archive and print more. A lost art form in itself in the digital age where terabyte hard rives are filled up every few months with meaningless photos. The weight of holding a photo in your hand is the just the beginning of what photography means to me. It has always been about the final image for me. That final image is what makes photography important and what will carry that image into the future. That print is the physicality of the idea that popped into my mind then translated to my eyes down to my fingers into the camera and burned to film. Then from that negative to a darkroom for a bath to get clean and pure. From there it either goes digital for the convenience of world we live in or to a contact sheet to be printed. Then back to me to hand to the one I am giving it to. A gift that they can hold and keep for as long as they wish. Not discarded onto a hard drive. Not a interpretation of light through a digital sensor and then given to them on a cd which is soon forgotten about.
In shooting film I have wanted to hold my prints more and more rather than just push them to the internet to be thrown into the sea of other imagery that is there. Having prints gives your images value and I urge all photographers and images lovers to get prints. That is why with my #AnalogPortrait sessions I include the 35mm prints in the price. I'm not trying to cater to an audience but rather bring out the culture of people who appreciate the craft and value that prints hold in photography. Maybe this will change the mindset of the computer screen gawkers.
So that is just a taste on my thoughts on film. If you feel the same way or don't, please lets chat.
I'll keep burring through celluloid.