Everyone knows that digital is more convenient than film photography. But a lot of people don’t know that film is more relaxing, zen, and pure bliss.
1. Therapy of shooting film
One thing that a lot of people haven’t talked about is the therapeutic effects of shooting photography, especially film.
When I shoot film, I enjoy the process of making pictures more than (frantic) digital photography. Each film shot is more considered, calm, yet precise. I liken shooting film (on a mechanical film camera, like a Leica MP) akin to grinding your own coffee by hand (inconvenient, but zen-meditative, and calming).
I remember when I started to shoot a lot with the film Hasselblad. It was big, heavy, and a pain to lug around. But the upside: the calm relaxing feeling of shooting through the waist-finder, disappearing into the frame, and disappearing into the act of making the picture. I really think everyone should try to shoot with a film TLR (Rolleiflex, Ricohflex, Yaschicamat) or a Hasselblad/Bronica at least once. Not for the image quality…but the zen-like process of shooting with it.
2. Benefits of shooting film
a. Focus on the process of shooting
With film, you’re less detached to the results of the pictures. You are focused on making each picture (because you cannot review the pictures you just shot on an LCD screen). Shooting film, you are forced to SLOW DOWN, and you’re not in a rush to quickly rush home, and upload and share your pictures to social media. You let your film sit and “marinate”— the last big batch of film I processed over 100+ rolls of film, after one year of waiting.
b. The benefit of film costing money
It is a GOOD THING that film costs money. Why? You end up with less crap to look through, I generally have a higher “hit rate” or “batting average” with film.
c. Film ages better, like a nice wine.
Also, my film pictures age better than my digital ones. I’m always screwing around with digital pictures, using different presets and processing styles, sometimes shooting RAW, other times JPEG (often shooting both). My digital pictures do NOT look consistent over the last 10 years.
With film, my pictures are consistent in the look and aesthetic, which makes the pictures more pleasant to look at, especially when shot over a long period of time, for a certain project. I love all the color Kodak Portra 400 film I’ve shot, for my SUITS project, ONLY IN AMERICA, and CINDY PROJECT CHROMA.
My monochrome black and white images shot on Kodak Tri-X are also blissful classic-looking to me.
3. Try out film and have fun!
Therefore, I encourage you to shoot film, for these reasons：
- Shooting film will calm, relax you. Like zen meditation of photography. Less anxious feelings about the results of the pictures, more enjoyment during the process of making pictures.
- More consistent aesthetic over long periods of time.
- Less stress of looking through (too many) digital pictures.
Ultimately I don’t think it is about ONLY shooting film. It’s shooting BOTH film and digital.
Maybe shoot personal family pictures on film, but shoot pictures of your food on your phone. Maybe do your professional work with your digital camera, and use film for personal work. Maybe keep your film work offline, or maybe share them. Make it personal, and make it for yourself.
So once again, it ain’t a battle of film vs digital. If you’ve never shot film, pick up an old film SLR, a disposable camera and a copy of FILM NOTES to get you started.
Like my friend Vishal from CameraFilmPhoto says,
Shoot film, enjoy the process.
SHOOT FILM ARTWEAR by ANNETTE KIM
SHOOT FILM ARTWEAR: Motivation for you to think less, SHOOT MORE!
Take it back to the old-school: FILM NOTES by HAPTICPRESS x ERIC KIM.
FILM PHOTOGRAPHY by ERIC KIM
If you’re interested in learning how to shoot film, start with this guide:
- FILM PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS by ERIC KIM
- Film Street Photography Manual
- Introduction to Shooting Film in Street Photography
- What I Learned Shooting 100 Rolls of Black and White Film
- What I Learned Processing 164 Rolls of Film After Waiting a Year
- My Experiences Shooting Medium-Format Film in Street Photography
- A Guide on How to Shoot Street Photography on a Film Leica (or Rangefinder)
- Why Digital Is Dead For Me In Street Photography
- Video: Why I’m Switching Back to Black and White Film for Street Photography
Videos: How to Shoot Film
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