Shooting With Film In A Digital Age

We live in a culture of impatience where instant gratification is strived for. Phrases like click and collect, buy now and same day delivery have become standard terms in the world of online retail. Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are awash with people competing against each other to churn out the most interesting post which gathers attention for a short time and then quickly becomes old news. As a culture we have become obsessed with speed and efficiency in everything we do, often disregarding and outright ignoring activities and actions that in our minds take too long to carry out.

It is no wonder then that in the world of photography speed has become a priority for a lot of photographers. Recently I was lucky enough to visit Wimbledon for the 2016 championships and I was shocked by the sheer amount of photographers that were allowed around the courts. During one of the games I was on the official Wimbledon Twitter page and photos were being posted minutes after they were being taken on court. This really hit home for me and made me realise, in this day and age, just how on the ball many photographers have to be to ensure that their photos are not only as good as their rivals, but that they are delivered and shared in a matter of minutes.

Most of the time whenever we receive word of a new camera release here at Calumet you can guarantee that the majority of the specs will have been improved to enhance quality, usability and speed. So in an age of being able to shoot, see and share a photo in an instant what is still attracting photographers to shoot with film?

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At Calumet, film rolls are some of our most popular products, being bought by many different photographers on a daily basis, and as a result we stock over 100 different kinds. We recently ran a Twitter poll where we found that 13% of respondents stated they regularly shot with film, and 3% stated they always shot with film.

I have a close friend who is a part time photographer who only shoots with film, when I asked him why he has not moved onto digital he explained that what he loves is the process. Being able to shoot first and think about the photograph later is what he really enjoys. By not seeing the photo straight away means that he can enjoy taking photos without worrying how well they have come out. The surprise comes later when he develops them and discovers moments that he had completely forgotten about, or had taken by mistake. “I love that I don’t have to think too much about my photography, I can just shoot and enjoy. So many photographers nowadays spend too long perfecting one shot as they can instantly see and critique what they have taken, often resulting in frustration that they cannot get ‘the perfect image’.”

Another argument for shooting with film that Petapixel highlights in their Film Vs Digital article is that shooting with medium and large format film can actually far exceed the resolution on many of today’s digital cameras, ‘according to research carried out by a team of four industry experts it was found that medium format film has the potential to capture a jaw-dropping 400 MP photograph!’.

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What really attracts me to shooting with film is the idea that the pictures you are taking are permanent. I cannot tell you how many times I have lost photos, either by accidentally deleting them or by forgetting where I have saved them. I have many fond memories of looking through my parents’ photo albums of holidays, family gatherings and special occasions, and remember the excitement of getting my own film developed and having to wait with excited anticipation for the photos to arrive.

There are many arguments for and against shooting with film but from what I have seen and from the conversations I have had, it doesn’t look like film will be disappearing anytime soon, and for that I am very grateful!

2 comments

  1. Just returned to 35mm film after purchasing a nice used Nikon FE2, can’t wait to get my first roll of black & white developed and your so right you can concentrate more on taking the pictures

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  2. totally agree – I feel that digital is still pursuing film in many respects and whilst it is getting close on many levels, film will always hold a noble higher ground because if refuses to be hurried. “You can’t rush art” is what I try to convey to my students. Even with all the best equipment we are still forced to wait and hopefully be ready for the decisive moment when we press the shutter and capture the scene. For me film and the “process” you were forced to go through coupled with the cost were important learning curves which helped me recognise the need for patience. It also helped me enjoy the wait for those moments which if we are honest are sometimes more satisfying than the resulting image!.

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