Let’s just accept that like most modern pass-times digital cameras offer us instant gratification. Add easy editing capabilities, and the convenience of shooting thousands of photos without worrying about running out of film, it is a no brainer- especially for commercial work. However, like myself, there are still many photographers who choose to shoot film, even in a digital world. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the reasons why shooting film can still be a valuable and rewarding experience in 2023.
it forces you to slow down and be intentional
One of the biggest advantages of shooting film is that it forces you to slow down and be intentional with your shots. Unlike with a digital camera, where you can take hundreds of photos in a matter of minutes, shooting film requires you to think carefully about each shot.
With a limited number of exposures per roll of film, you need to be mindful of composition, exposure, and other factors before pressing the shutter button. This can help you become a more deliberate and thoughtful photographer, and can ultimately result in better photos. Once you settle into the slower more mindful process of film photography, 12 x 120 frames seem like a lot of images. Personally, 36 x 35mm frames are to much as I like to shoot and develop ASAP and that volume of images can take me weeks to finish.
it can produce a unique look and feel
Another advantage of shooting film is that it can produce a unique look and feel that’s different from digital. Film has a distinct grain structure and color palette that can create a vintage, nostalgic, or even dreamy atmosphere. Depending on the type of film and the lens used, with the way it’s developed, you can achieve different effects that are difficult to replicate with digital. This can be especially appealing if you’re looking to create a specific aesthetic or mood in your photos. While digital imagery produces perfect sharp and reproducible colours- film can often yield the complete opposite and refreshing to celebrate this in a world ever obsessed with perfection. It’s actually a liberating experience!
it can teach you important technical skills
Shooting film can teach you important technical skills that are still relevant in the digital age. For example, because you can’t review your shots immediately after taking them, you need to have a good understanding of exposure, lighting, and other factors to get the shot you want. Once again it makes you slow down and think about every image from composition to lighting.
it can be a more tactile and personal experience
Finally, shooting film can be a more tactile and personal experience than shooting digital. There’s something satisfying about loading a roll of film into your camera, manually advancing it between shots, and then developing the film yourself (if you choose to do so).
It can also be a more collaborative process, as you might work with a lab to develop your film and discuss your preferences for the final result. All of these factors can make shooting film feel more connected to the art and craft of photography, and can be a more fulfilling experience as a result.
In a world that is pushing hard for digital experiences- shooting film is like swapping over vinyl records (or CD’s!) and a memorable experience that connects our mind and body. You can’t say that for the digital experience as a whole.
Overall cost of a project on film is ridiculous heading into 2023- especially on colour (yes Kodak I’m looking at you). Additionally, shooting on film requires careful planning and precision, as there is a limited number of exposures on each roll and mistakes cannot be easily corrected.
Digital, on the other hand, is much more convenient and accessible. It allows for instant gratification, as photographers and filmmakers can immediately see their results and make adjustments as needed. Digital cameras also have a wider range of ISO options, making it easier to shoot in low light situations.
While digital photography has many advantages, there are still good reasons to shoot film in a digital world. Shooting film can force you to slow down and be intentional, produce a unique look and feel, teach you important technical skills, and be a more tactile and personal experience. If you’re curious about shooting film, it might be worth giving it a try and seeing if it’s right for you. Who knows, it might just become your new favourite way to capture the world around you.
For me shooting on film leads to a deeper emotional connection between myself, subjects and the image. I like to believe that this connection can be seen throughout my body of work and it’s 100% transferable to my digital process when required. So I guess you can be a “glass half full or half empty” photographer when considering employing film when it comes to shooting your work. Personally I see and invest in the positives as I adore how shooting on makes me feel and enables me to separate my commercial work to personal.
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