Thursday, January 17, 2013

Why I Shoot Film

I have been asked many times, "Why do you shoot film?" and to be perfectly honest, I do not have a true, proper and fair answer to this.
There are so many reasons why I shouldn't.  It's getting harder to find except at "camera" specialty stores, or online.  It's price is rising, and processing costs add to the over-all cost of the film.  Not to mention, how I have to wait to see the image, where as if I used a digital camera, I could simply see the image right away, and if I captured it properly and how I wanted, I could save it, and if not.  Well... delete it.
That's all fun, and sounds wonderful, but there is something missing to me.  I mean, yes, it's great to see the final image, but every digital camera is lacking the one component that is inherent in all film cameras.  The soul of the camera.  As strange as that sounds, you should remember that cameras were once regarded (ages ago) as evil devices that could capture ones soul.  Well, I feel that there is a soul in the film.  The reason why, is because each film has different characteristics from one roll to the next.  Even using the same emulsion.
Film cameras, especially ones from long days passed, weren't just functional.  They were works of art.  Like the Zeiss Ikon Contaflex, which is a 35mm Leaf-Shutter SLR.
Yup!  An SLR with a leaf shutter.  As strange as that sounds, which also means terrible shutter lag, is a beautifully designed camera.  The inherent flaws of the leaf shutter are the complexity of it.  And applied to an SLR it gets even more difficult to design.  Upon viewing through the viewfinder the shutter is open, but the light trap is closed.  When you trip the shutter, the shutter closes, lens stops down, the mirror flips up, and in turn flips up the light trap, the shutter opens for the photo duration, and closes again.  This is a lot that has to happen when you take the photo, which ultimately lead to the demise of the Leaf Shutter SLR.
But look at Leica, an Exakta, or even a Nikon S2. They are absolute works of art, and working or not, they are beautiful!
Or a Kodak Brownie Autographic Model No. 1 is just astoundingly beautiful in design.  Art Deco, they were called.

But this still doesn't answer why I choose to shoot film.
Again, I cannot properly answer this question.  Although the answer I give more often than not, is simple.

I truly love film.

Sure, I still get the same questions as everyone else, "Can you still get film for that?" or "Oh, wow! That still works?"  or even, "Why don't you shoot digital?"

What they don't realize, is I do use digital.  In fact, I use digital cameras almost every day, either on my phone, or one of my dSLRs.
I just prefer to use film, as I feel a much stronger connection to it.

A friend of mine, Dustin Abbott, a fellow Canadian and digital photographer, a very good photographer, has told me that he has no interest in using film.  BUT, he loves to look through his dad's old slides, and admires the colours and look of them.   He says he never caught the film bug, and honestly, that's fine.  Not everyone will, and not everyone has any interest in film.  But he does admit that the part he is most intrigued by, is the printing.  Although he most likely won't ever do it, the idea of seeing an image appear on a white sheet of paper while being submerged in the developer, is like magic.

And to be perfectly honest, the magic is lost when using a digital format.  The magic of using a piece of silver coated acetate, or a sheet of silver gelatin paper, and seeing an image appear out of nothing, truly is an amazing experience.

I love the film experience, and embrace it fully.

As long as film exists, I will use it.

Here's to film being around a long, long, time.

Until next time.. Keep those shutters firing!

Don't forget to check out the links at the bottom of the blog page. Especially the one Linking the Film Photography Project!

1 comment:

  1. That can easily become a ling philosophical discussion.. But in the end a digital camera will become landfill once the battery has failed and a replacement cannot be found, or the sensor fails.. They are planned obsolescence since parts for the camera will stop being produced shortly after the newer product replacement hits the shelves and the failed part cannot be fabricated.
    While older mechanical film cameras will.continue to function, with many parts being able to be found or fabricated to original factory spec.
    The fact that you can pick up a camera from 1890 and it'll work while a digital camera from 2000 will be, at best, barely usable, says a lot.
    It is just a saying that film has a soul, while digital is nothing more than cold and clinical.
    Humans are full of flaws.. Film represents those flaws, while digital is the constant strive for perfection.. We do not live in a perfect world, and film reflects more of that imperfection around you than digital can..

    Just my own personal feelings and observations..