Film Photography

I don’t get it. I see many articles on the joy and advantages of film photography. LONG LIVE FILM, ANALOGUE UBER ALLES…[1]

I embraced Digital Photography quite early, and I would never go back to film. In my very unscientific research (ie, what I have read on-line) there seem to be two ends of a spectrum of photographers.

At one end there are the people who love the process of creating a photograph. These people love to spend time in the darkroom, or in front of the computer, experimenting with new processes and techniques just to see how they work.These people tend to appreciate film. FWIW (For What It’s Worth), because these people are so process oriented, they tend to make good instructors. A Famous example of this type of photographer might be Ansel Adams. He was a genius in the darkroom, and he created a whole methodology for creating fine prints.

I live closer to the other end of the spectrum. For me, the final result is what counts. I only learn a new technique if it helps me get to my goal, or helps me get to my goal more quickly. I don’t care if a photo was taken with film or digital, nor do I care about the techniques the artist used.[2] Maybe that is why I have such a tough time naming my photos. I want the viewer to take in the image without being biased by titles or explanations.

In a related vein, I prefer to control my final image. I want my photography to say what I want it to say. For this reason, among others, I have never been attracted to the “Holga” or Instagram movements. This may seem at odds with my landscape work. Isn’t the goal just to find an existing image and copy that onto film/sensor? Yes and no. I look for a scene that “speaks to me”. I try to figure out the story the image could say. Then I visualize how I will capture, process, and present the image so that this story is told to the best of my ability. Then I compose and take the photo. Of course, most of the time this doesn’t work, and sometimes the message changes as I am working on an image, but I still want the image to stand on its own.

So what is the moral of this story? None, really. I understand my tendencies and biases. In fact I try to see past them and push my limits. I continually try street photography because it is a lot less controlled than I am comfortable with. Maybe one of these days I will have to get a Holga just to push myself even more…

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. Disclaimer, Warning, and other small print. This is my opinion. I am not stating that ONE WAY is better than any other, I am simply exploring some thoughts I have had…
  2. Of course it is not quite so cut and dried. I like to know a photographers technique if I like the final result, and I am not sure how I could achieve a similar effect.

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