Why shoot film? With a new full frame digital camera hitting the market every couple of months, this is a good question. Photography has become a ubiquitous part of our lives with smart phones, iPads and Instagram. Arguably the ease and quality of producing the quotidian photographic image has also improved with the digital age, so what’s the appeal of the archaic image technology of film?
Film Forces You to Think
Ansel Adams stated that previsualization is, ”the ability to anticipate a finished image before making the exposure.” Shooting film makes the photographer think about exposure, composition and point of view before depressing the shutter release. In many ways film can make photography a more contemplative process. Slowing down and concentrating is both transformative and rewarding.
Film is Archival
Film is a long lasting hard copy of your image. Unlike a digital file, one bad keystroke can’t delete your negative. Properly stored color negative film should last for decades and b&w is expected to last as long as 500 years if properly processed and stored. A good CD’s archival life is 25 years. And who knows what electronic media will be supported in the next 10 years.* BTW does anyone have a driver for a Jazz Drive that works with High Sierra?
Film Makes Big Beautiful Prints
A good scan of a negative or positive can make an amazing print. This analog/digital combo is truly a match made in heaven. We have had many projects where film was scanned and then printed as silver gelatin DSI Digital Silver Prints® or Museum Quality Color Inkjet Prints. To name just a few; Tod Papageorge – Studio 54, Michael “Nick” Nichols – Wild, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Anthony Hernandez – Retrospective San Francisco MOMA. Combining analog and digital processes makes creating editions and large high quality prints easier then in the past.
Film can be Economical
Many of us have at least one old film camera laying around. If you compare the cost of a full frame digital camera and lens with a used/free film camera the difference could pay for a lot of film and processing. This claim has to come with a caveat, I have a friend who “binge shoots” film. She says that for her film is “like crack!” She is currently looking for a 12 step program.
Film is Fun
The hands on nature of film, the “magic” of seeing your negatives for the first time, big sturdy cameras made of metal, wood and leather, using a mechanical device that maybe older than yourself, the randomness that can occur, all this makes film an experience that is rich and multifaceted. Film is fun!
Is film photography going away?
In a recent conversation with KEH Camera, they state that film camera sales remain strong and a substantial portion of their business. Both Ilford and Fuji Film report strong film sales. Shooting film has become hip, and millennials are the largest consumers of film. With all this evidence I think that film will be around for a little while longer.