For the Love of Film


For the Love of Film

I. Love. Film.

Film photography is very different from digital photography, both have advantages and disadvantages. Sometimes it is difficult to almost impossible to tell the difference between the two when looking at a printed image. So, what is all the fuss about?

The reality is that it costs time and money to become an accomplished film photographer. With film, the photographer loses money each time the shutter is clicked. With digital, the cost is upfront. The photographer purchases the digital camera body, and then the “clicks” are essentially free after the cost of the storage card. Digital is becoming far more affordable to amateur and enthusiasts alike, and thereby more people are entering the photography world. The issue is that between the two mediums is, which produces the artist, and which produces the amateur? The simple answer is both do, but they take different paths to the same goal.

Excellent photography requires proper composition, subject and background separation, and a focus point that leads the onlooker through the image. People who require immediate feedback may learn best from digital, however this seldom happens because the photographer may be tempted to increase the likelihood of getting a good shot by taking more images, or “spraying and praying”, which is jargon for taking a lot of pictures and hoping that something good will be captured.

The issue with this is that, unless a person is diligent with digital photography, they may be tempted to take lots of shots instead of truly learning about composition, subject separation, and focus. This is where film is vastly superior. Film makes the photographer slow down, it helps the individual think about their composition, separation, and focus, and it does all this before the shutter button is ever pressed. Film photography also teaches patience. This is because the virtue of patience is inherent to the film photography process of compose, photograph, send off for development, review prints, scan to digital, edit, then print the final image.

With digital, the process is much more instant: shoot, review, filter, upload to social networks. That’s the most abundant way digital images are handled. Unfortunately, the photograph has little chance of ever being printed.

So, why film then? Simply put, film provides an artist with a way to directly connect, physically, with the medium for which they work. Film has lovely characteristics that the clinically perfect images produced by digital sensors just can’t replicate. Film too, has a very high exposure latitude, being quite generous with highlights, whereas in digital photography, detail is usually recovered from shadows.

I love film for the simple reason that after shooting digital images for so long, film provides the proving ground of my understanding of photography. You see, with film, there is no screen, you must understand exposure, composition, and depth of field, and you must have developed an eye for your subject. In the end, film tests the metal of a photographer, where the accolades of a great image are truly earned through thought and experience, not from a lot of images.

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