If you have been photographing for many years chances are you had used a film camera before. Well, at least in the old days I always had one handy.
However, to be honest, since the rise of digital photography I switched to a shiny new DSLR as soon as I could get my hands on one. And I've never looked back. Until recently, when at my local studio we decided to do a month of ‘experimentation with film'. We dusted off our old film SLRs and set up a few retro style sessions with local models.
It was rather an interesting experience. All of us are used to snapping away without thinking much. Some photographers couldn’t help themselves and kept grabbing their ‘backup DSLR’ just to take a few shots to see what it looks like… I was very strict with myself and stuck to the challenge.
Shooting on film made me stop and think about every shot. The number of shots taken per session dropped from about a hundred to twenty. I often just gave up taking the shot because it was not working for me in the view finder until I repositioned the model. I must admit it was sometimes a bit frustrating experience, and I kept looking at the back of the camera to see a preview - like some idiot… :-) Then there was an anticipation of awaiting the results developed from a local lab - plus a shock of how much it costs JUST to develop a negative...
I was quite pleased with the results - the shots had a lovely classic grainy feel to them, and were mostly all nicely composed. All the same, there were a few annoying out-of-focus but otherwise nicely composed shots, which I could no longer fix.
In his article published on lightstocking.com, Jason D. Little gives us five reasons to shoot on film and I appreciate them all. He tells us to go back to our old SLR and go experimenting. It has to be said film cameras cannot compete with digital perfection we achieve using modern equipment. However, they will give us an opportunity to be more creative, presenting us with a mixture of happy accidents, technical challenges, no need to post-process, lovely film grain and an unique quirky character of the film and camera we use.
In summary, grab your old SLR and go on a photo walk. Push the boat out. And stop and think a little when using your digital SLR instead of snapping away 5 frames per second.
Film photography forces me to be much more deliberate and thoughtful when I’m working. There are no do-overs. No delete button. If I don’t get it right the first time — get it right in camera — then I’ve just wasted a frame.