Analog or Die: Film Is Alive
Okay, well maybe that was a little brash. Digital is perfectly acceptable. But I've recently started exploring and exercising my film photography skills, and I've grown quite an affinity for the art of this craft. And isn't that what it's all about? Challenge? Interest? Experience? Here's my two cents.
Film is a challenge. It makes you think, makes you work, and makes you appreciate the process just as much as the finished product.
Film also attaches to people in different ways. For me, I fell in love - and romanticized, even - the process and product that shooting on film required.
I love that to be able to even snap a photo, you have to know what the h*ck you're doing. You have to know what film to buy, how to load it, and then how to adjust the camera to get a decent exposure. There's no guess work or room for error.
My experience is with a camera from the 70's - a Canon AE-1 35mm SLR. It's a beaut. Granted, this camera has a battery and electronic parts, and I don't even develop my own film, but the fact that I get to handle and appreciate the roots of one of my greatest interests is quite rewarding.
I've read of the great debates between cinematographers, and how some will only shoot on film, others have switched to digital, or some use both still. But I hear their arguments, and it's quite interesting.
One main issue I have with newer digital cameras is that they have a sensor or processor so good, it can practically see in the dark with no lights. Now, forgive me, but - what the fuck is the point of that? Film is literally the art of "painting with light", and without light, what are you doing?
It's too easy. It really is. So I've stepped back and drawn on the past and have since learned how to shoot on film. I've learned a lot by going backwards.
There's 2 important concepts when working with film:
1. You have to know how to properly set your ISO to the film speed, and manipulate your lens' f-stop with the shutter speed to perfectly expose a shot; a lot of technical competence to achieve the best outcome in all situations.
2. You don't get to review. You don't get that instant gratification that so many of us have become dependent on when snapping selfies (a.k.a. "self portraits"), and you certainly don't get a do-over. Film is expensive, and you shouldn't waste any shot.
I've currently only developed two rolls of film, but I wanted to share my experience as well as some exposures:
Are these perfect? No. But that's what I love about film! The tone, the grain, the artifacts - I love it. This is that "beauty" and romanticizing I was talking about.
Subjects caught on film seem to have more of presence and hold a time in history compared to digital. When you look at a film photograph, you can almost feel that time and place; you get a greater sensory reaction, at least for me, anyway.
Keep art and passion alive, through whatever peaceful form you can embody.