It may seem a bit strange to be carrying around a film camera in this digital world, but I guess you could say that I am a bit strange, so if the shoe fits……… I purchased a 35mm SLR camera in November of 2013. I always knew that one day I would shoot film, but I did not know it would be this soon. The compelling force behind this purchase was my continuing drive to improve my knowledge and technique. This same drive made me start a 365 project a couple of years ago. Trying to create a good shot every day for 365 consecutive days was time consuming and not easy at times, but I believe it paid off. I figured shooting film would force me to put a little more thought into the shot as I would have a limited amount of exposures and I could not instantly review my shot. Can I do this with a digital camera? Absolutely, but will I? The key word is FORCE. The film camera forced me to think about my subject matter. Will this shot be interesting? Why am I shooting this? The film camera forced me to pay attention to detail and search for the best composition before hitting the shutter release. Manually focusing and paying attention to the distance scales helped me to understand depth of field better and it gave me a better understanding of shooting at infinity vs the hyperfocal distance. The film camera also forced me to practice holding the camera properly as I don’t have image stabilization. Basically shooting film FORCED me to use the fundamentals of photography.
While I still shoot mostly digital, I find shooting film just plain fun and there is a look that film stock gives that is hard to explain. Whenever I venture out with my 35mm SLR, I have a sense of freedom. I am free from chimping. I am free from post processing (little to none). I am free from the low battery indicator (my slr is completely mechanical). I am free from card readers and cords. I am free from cluttered buttons and dials. Ultimately I am free to put more time into capturing the image.
I have to admit that I am not die-hard, yet. I mean, I don’t process my own film. I am currently using the Film Box Lab located in Nashville, Tennessee. Their team does really great work. As I learn more about processing, I hope to start developing my own black and white film and I want to do some medium format work, too. It may seem odd, but it makes since to me that my love of photography would actually take a step back in time. I am a stickler for tradition and I love traditional photography. There are still a number of film stocks available today and it appears they are thriving. I would conclude that Film Is Not Dead!