My first ever camera was film and I absolutely LOVED it. Okay, so it wasn’t your usual 35mm SLR and it was automatic, but I had to load film myself and getting my negatives/prints back without having a clue what they’d look like was the best. For a long time I’ve wanted to shoot more film (having been digital for 5 years) so I started to purchase and gather some film cameras to get me going which began with a polaroid One300 and non-other than an underwater Canon A1! After snapping away for the last year or two I decided to get more serious; I decided to not only capture day to day life, but to capture film for my client shoots too!
During this whole process and following fellow photographers who also shoot film, it dawned on me how much I truly love the craft, the techniques and its evolution over the years; so I’d like to share with you my reasons why you should all shoot film, (or at least have a go at it!) and what it can teach you:
1. Fundamental - Light - drawing. It’s the epitome of film photography. Capturing an image on light sensitive film and processing the negatives. If you’re a photographer starting out, or just want to practice the art then understanding that light will control everything about what you capture is key. If you can shoot film, and know what will be suitable for what environment then I can guarantee you’ll have a better understanding when using anything! Manually adjusting settings to get your exposure spot on will be your starting point.
2. Patience - It’s currently far too easy to snap away taking multiple shots of the same thing, ‘just in case’ (guilty), to auto-focus, or ‘straighten up later’ but with film, from the moment you load, adjust your settings and develop it takes a huge amount of patience and this is something I think we all need to practice! Slow down, stop, and think. What is it exactly what you want to capture, because you’ve only got 24-36 frames on your film! Whether it’s your models positioning, dust shifting through morning sunlight or waves shattering into a shower up the cliffs your timing, patience and setting are key. You really have to get it right, or you’ve lost another frame. This has helped me hugely with quality and composition as I have no shots to waste. You want to capture the best, not the most, after all you want to nail it it one shot, not 50.
3. Style - Playing with your settings will allow you to understand your camera better; do you love a shallow depth of field with those soft backgrounds? (yes!) Do you love the particular colour in a certain film? What is it you want to capture and share? I shoot with a low aperture ALL the time - that’s what gives me my own identity, and I love working with Kodak Portra 160, Ektar and TRI-X. The muted tones, perfect blue and contrast in black and white film are all what I look for so experiment, try new things and enjoy the process!
4. Theraputic - If you’re lucky enough to have access to a dark room, I cannot tell you how therapeutic, relaxing and satisfying it is to develop and enlarge your own work. Watching the shapes and faces emerge from a blank piece of paper is like watching magic. It’s the true craft of photography!
5. Nostalgia - If not for anything else, just do it for the nostalgia! Remember the excitement of collecting your prints, or rifling through the attic looking back at childhood memories? The grain and colour that screams authenticity and a period of time you remember as true as the moment it was taken. No photoshop, no filters, just a captured memory in a truly original form.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not hear to preach or claim I’m a film expert, but having fallen in love with it all over again, I hope that’s exactly what I become!
If I’ve inspired you to dust off your SLR, purchase some Kodak or practice on your polaroid, then please do share what you’ve captured with me! Tag me on my Instagram or send me a message!