A few people have asked me why I’m bothering to shoot film again. Some have supported my decision to do so, some not so much.
I did not make this choice to garner praise, nor criticism (however much a certainty that may be), nor am I doing it in some sort of hipster-like attempt to “fit in” – if anything, the revival and popularity of film in the last couple of years has made the whole idea slightly less appealing and much more expensive!. But, it’s just something I want to do.
So, why am I shooting film again?
In short, going through the whole process with film was something I was keen on doing right from the start. When I made the switch to digital SLRs about 10 years ago, I went into it full steam ahead – always disappointed that I felt my film experience was “incomplete”.
Despite all the doom & gloom and the “it’ll never be as good as film” naysayers, I saw the potential of digital and knew that this would be taking over the world very quickly. I was right, it did. Within just a couple of years, many people I knew now owned a Nikon D70, Canon 300D, 10D or 20D (and most of them were just taking snaps of the family, their pets or holidays in far off exotic locations).
The likes of Facebook and Twitter did not yet exist, but already people wanted to share the photographs they were creating with a wider audience and long lost relatives on the other side of the planet, posting on many forums relating to the topics that featured in their images, the “nice pic” brigade was born, but you could still get very honest and valuable critique on a few select photography forums.
Digital’s future was inevitable, and I wanted to try to stay ahead of the curve.
The obvious question then, why now?
I’d intended to start shooting film again years ago. I actually never really intended to drop it completely, it just worked out that way. Since going digital, I’ve moved house three times, switched from one continent to another, I’ve never found a lab that could produce a consistent level of quality at a price I was willing to pay, and digital just became so reliable, simple, and quick (the instant gratification of seeing how your photographs are coming together on that tiny LCD on the back of the camera never completely disappears – even when you know it’s going to be right before you hit the shutter).
This year, however, I’ve been rearranging my priorities, and have found that I now have a little time to put back into shooting film once again, to try to further progress along on that journey I’d started years ago. While the principles of photography remain the same, shooting film is just different to shooting digital. I suppose it’s like owning both a car and a bicycle. Sure, the car’s practical, it gets its daily use, they both get you from A to B, but sometimes it’s just nice to go out in the countryside for a quiet ride.
So, I’m not trying to “relive the good old days”, It’s unlikely to be something I’ll use with a paying client, it’s not some advertising gimmick to make myself stand out from the other photographers in the area, but sometimes you just want to just limit your gear and your technology (certainly makes for a lighter camera bag) and go out there and make images.