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Inspiration

Why Some Photographers Refuse To Give Up Shooting Film

By Kishore Sawh on August 3rd 2014

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Anything in excess, be it a hobby, a pursuit, an attitude, or action, often takes on the attributes of its opposite. Too much help becomes a handicap, adoration becomes obsession, pacifists become militants, all showing that too much of a blessing can be a curse. To some degree, I feel the ease and forgiving nature that comes with digital photography can be a drawback.

While it has enabled a veritable army of people to pick up photography and produce decent looking images within moments, it may be fair to say that it’s almost too easy. Of course, there are always challenges, but the ease and low cost at which a shot can be discarded puts less value on each click. Ergo the effort into production is likely less, and when the effort is less, the rewards tend to be also. The sweet ain’t as sweet, without the bitter. Or some such platitude.

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I could sit here and predictably pen some love letter to analogue shooting, but I won’t. I did a little of that here, but also because I don’t need to. There are more and more people coming out to re-educate us all on the value of it. People like Edson Dias, and others at Goa-CAP (Center for Alternative Photography). He, in this wonderful 3-Minute Stories documentary by Amrit Vatsa, discusses why it is that some photographers are still advocating, and relentlessly shooting this older, slower, more costly way.

[REWIND: Nikon D610 Review | To Get Or Not To Get, Is Still The Question]

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Most strikingly, in a beautiful analogy, compares analogue photography and the developing process, to painting. He discusses how how a digital printout, while not necessarily worse, is more akin to a printed reproduction of a painting, and how a proper film print is like the original on canvas. It’s a nice thought, and one I’m inclined to agree with. Even if you don’t, seeing the passion, and hearing it from Edson, may at least cause you to pause and reflect. It may be a bit of romance for film, but what it assures us is that it’s not film’s swan song. Thankfully.

Source: The Phoblographer, Images are screen captures from linked video

About

Kishore is, among other things, the Editor-In-Chief at SLR Lounge. A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Jesse Rinka

    I enjoyed this. Sadly, I have not had the opportunity to shoot on film in any serious capacity. I do now own a Canon AE-1 Program camera which had previously belonged to my late Grandfather but have yet to go out and shoot with it.

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  2. Craig Anthony Perkins

    I still shoot film along with my digital stuff. It’s a great way to slow down and re-hone your skills. Though it’s funny seeing some of the comments about when they only have 36 or 24 shots… I shoot Medium Format film so I am limited to only 12 shots! So I really need to make those count!

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    • Matthew Saville

      Amen! Or try being a landscape photographer, and only having ONE CLICK per piece of film! (And it costs what, $20 per click to process 8×10 large format LOL???)

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  3. Ralph Hightower

    I enjoy using film. I still use the Canon A-1 that I bought new 34 years ago; I bought a used Canon F-1N last year because I wanted Canon’s flagship film camera. Even though I now own a DSLR, I’ll continue shooting film. I plan to shoot film and ones-n-zeros at next year’s practice round at The Masters.

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  4. Andy O’Dowd

    I keep meaning to borrow my wife’s lomo or rolleiflex one day to give film shooting a go. How hard can it be? ;-)

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  5. Eric Sharpe

    I still shoot film for the practice of composition. It makes you slow down, and pay more attention to what’s in, or not in the frame. I can honestly say that it’s helped out my shooting with digital a lot more, by using the patience and control that I learned from being limited to 36 shots. There’s something about knowing every time I press the shutter, I just spent a dollar. It’ll make you slow down.

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  6. Rafael Steffen

    Shooting film is a great school to learn to control the vision of taking photographs. You can do the same with digital, Give yourself an assignment where you go out and shoot only 36 frames or 24 and come back home and reflect.

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  7. Brandon Dewey

    Great Video. Learning how to shoot on an old nikon 35mm really helped me to learn the exposer triangle and how to get the correct exposer.

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  8. Michael Stagg

    Great video!

    I’ve always felt that photographers that still shoot film or transitioned from film to digital possess an advantage or the purely digital photographer. For one, no if’s, and’s or but’s about it, you have to know your stuff. There’s no 545 times to try to get the right shot. There’s no looking on the back to see if you’ve blown your highlights. You’ve got 24 (or 36 or whatever) shots and it’s best you make each one count.

    Outside of my first Polaroid camera and dozens of disposable cameras, I’ve never really and truly experimented with film. I wish that colleges would require studying film photography before moving to digital. In any case, I plan on picking up a film camera to experiment and, if I’m lucky, I’ll experiment with developing as well.

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  9. Matthew Saville

    Not sure how pacifists become militants, but other than that I do enjoy the occassional roll of film. It’s just fun to shoot, and I like how it boils down the creative process to it’s purest form…

    =Matt=

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  10. Stephen Velasquez

    I learned photography with a film camera in high school and I hated the coarse and developing the negative. Time consuming, plus my shots sucked at that time. I still shoot like I have 32 shots.

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  11. Austin Swenson

    I think that any means by which we can learn more about how to do photography in a different way, whether we do it as a hobby, as a career, or even just for fun every once in a while can make us better photographers.

    I actually bought an old minolta XD-11 with a few lenses and I specifically go out with the challenge to get better shooting with film because it has made a difference in how I shoot digitally. And besides that, film cameras have a charm all their own that gets me excited about photography all over again.

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  12. Ronald Mathis

    Here is a good place to send film http://www.dwaynesphoto.com/

    This company developed the last roll of Kodachrome in Parsons Kansas

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  13. Herm Tjioe

    Time spent just composing is like a zen moment

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  14. Michael Giordano

    Great article, Kishore. I have a question and it might be very dumb. I’m from a very small town that doesn’t have much around it for hours. If I were to try this out what would be my best options for developing the film. I will research it myself, but does anyone have recommendations on where I would send the film to be developed? My dad and I have run into problems with film being where we are from. He has a lot of old film and slides from Vietnam and he has a hard time finding places that will develop them. Maybe we haven’t spent enough time looking into it.

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    • Steven Pellegrino

      I send my film to http://thedarkroom.com/

      Reasonable prices for developing and scanning. You will typically get your photos available to you online within a few days and then a few more days to have your negatives and CD delivered.

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    • Amrit Vatsa

      The real fun is in developing it yourself! :) Though of course not always possible!

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    • Paul Monaghan

      Amrit Vatsa

      That was such a nice video and while I have never developed my own film, I have enjoyed shooting film and getting my results back.

      I would love to develop my own film, I have a roll of exposed mf film in an old welmy 6 my friend gave me that id love to try bring to life and going further than that I would love to do some wetplate’s as I feel creating something physical and real would be better than digital (even though I love what I can do to digital files).

      It would be a sad day for the older art of photography to pass away due to the convenience of digital but there will be many people like me who only found their love for photography in the digital age (I wish I found that I loved it when I was younger) who have never seen the magic of the darkroom.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Hi Michael, thank you for the kind words, and your question is not a dumb one. There are good recommendations here on this thread as where to get film developed, but there are often locations in a city near you that will do it. If you live someone near a sizeable university they often work with a local camera store to do such developing.

      Furthermore, I’m with Amrit. That is to say that developing on your own, even if for experience and leisure once in a while, is incomparable to anything else. If you don’t know where to do that, I suggest, once again, checking out a local university or college. I often tell people to do this, to go and speak to the Photo department that most have, as they usually have a darkroom. You can often audit a class for free and get access that way, or they may even just let you go in to develop. Hope you find a way to satisfy your curiosity. Cheers

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  15. Steven Pellegrino

    I think every photographer should have some experience shooting film. Sure, digital is here to stay, but shooting film gives you a different perspective of how you shoot. You don’t have to make film your religion, just pick up an inexpensive Canon AE-1 Program with a 50mm for about $70 on ebay. Buy a dozen rolls of film six color and six black and white. I’d recommend Ilford HP5 Plus 400 for black and white & Kodak Portra 400 for color. Who knows, you might get hooked on it!

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  16. Matt Walsh

    Video was changed to private, can’t watch it.

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    • Amrit Vatsa

      Hey Matt, I did not know SLRlounged had embeded my video! Have added the site to the embed white-list and the video will now play directly here in this post! Cheers!

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    • MARTIN MIANO

      same here

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