Film is film.
In an age where cameras are pushing to new heights and limits everyday, it’s all too easy to get caught up on the flashy and spendy equipment. Shooting digitally is a necessity for us to do what we do today. Digital bodies have become so advanced and relatively affordable that it’s the medium of choice that makes the most sense. It allows me to do the jobs I want to get paid to do, and be able to shoot and post-process and manipulate images into the way I want them to look and deliver. It’s what I started with and learned to shoot with, and what I will continue to use the rest of my career. It wasn’t until I started shooting film, however, that I really got a grasp on the fundamentals and learned more than I ever had.
Shooting film is so very crucial to how I work as a photographer now, and I am starting to firmly believe that everyone who is even mildly interested in trying to make a living with a camera should be using film as a tool to learn and better themselves. Film is film. There are no shortcuts to making great shots with film. The biggest thing it has taught me is to slow down and think about what I am trying to capture and convey in a scene. When you only have 36 or 12 or even 1 shot to capture, depending on your format, you really need to slow things down and think.
With digital, I used to overshoot everything just to try and see how it would turn out. Don’t get me wrong, you have the luxury of trying that if you’d like to. The problem is it quickly can turn into a bad habit when you are doing a paid gig and the pressure is on. I shot countless shows where I’d shoot damn near 2,000 pictures and only end up with 15 or so that I liked. Most of those were even dumb luck that the shot turned out. Since I started shooting film almost 9 months ago, I’ve only been able to shoot a few handful of rolls but when I go out I am much more disciplined and selective with what I want to shoot, and I’m significantly happier with the quality of the shots I am getting in return.
The key to this whole thing is that I’ve started slowing down drastically when I shooting digital and thinking more about what I want. Composition, technique, lighting, perspective are all going through my head before I rattle off a shot. The philosophy of doing as much of the work as I can in camera saves me so much time and hassle in post, but also comes from the reality that film is film and if I don’t get everything just right when I snap an analog picture, there is no Lightroom and Photoshop command that will correct a fundamental mistake of a negative.
Some of my absolute favorite shots I’ve ever taken are coming from my film cameras, and they don’t cost a fortune to have. Go grab an old camera from your grandparents house and order a few rolls online and try it out yourself, I bet you might be surprised how enjoyable it is. Here is a small collection of my last developing day. Shot with a Hasselblad 500c/m with an 80mm 2.8 on Ilford Delta 100 & HP5 400 medium format film.
Ilford HP5 Plus 400 Shots