Recently I’ve spoken to photographers with far more experience than me; pros who were taking photographs on film before I was born, who have asked why? Why are you shooting film? Digital photography is instantaneous. You snap the shutter and within seconds your photograph appears on screen. You can check your exposure and adjust your settings on the spot, meaning you eliminate errors in exposure altogether. You can then take the RAW digital file and enhance it even further in post production. And let’s not forget, it’s free! You can shoot as much as you want to, without worrying about cost.
These are compelling arguments, to which my answers may be insufficient. Perhaps it’s because I’m a bit of a romantic and a sucker for nostalgia, but this is why I think I first became interested in learning to shoot film…
… it has a look about it which photoshoppers spend hours attempting to replicate digitally. To me, it’s like the difference between vinyl and mp3. The difference is intangible; you can’t quite put your finger on it, but there’s a quality about one which can’t be found in the other. But is that enough to challenge the powerful arguments which push digital photography to the forefront? Probably not.
Perhaps the most important element for me was to conquer my personal fear of film photography. I have often felt like a fraud in this profession, because I had no idea what to do with a film camera. When I bought my first film camera, the first thing I did was photograph it with my digital camera! Pure irrational fear. And I needed to address it. It was primarily this reason which motivated me to sign up to Jonathan Canlas’ Film Is Not Dead workshop. I’m so glad I did.
Captured on Kodak Portra Film
Jon showed me that as long as you think about your exposure before you press the shutter, the photograph will be there. You may not be able to see it straight away, but it is there. I was so afraid to get my scans back as I was sure I would’ve done something terribly wrong… I told myself “Sure, Jon can do it because he’s a master of his craft, but you’re out of your depth so don’t be too upset if they all come back black!” And when the day finally arrived, I was so relieved and excited to find that in actual fact none of them were badly over or under exposed. They weren’t all perfect, but for a first attempt they were pretty good. I now had faith in film.
I also realised there is a plus side to paying to take photographs. When you know that each time you click the shutter you’re spending money, it forces you to think carefully about what’s in your frame. Is it worth it? I learned to shoot digitally and started out very trigger happy; firing the camera at every opportunity. Shooting film has forced me to slow down and to think about why I’m taking a photograph. In short, I believe this pursuit is making me a better photographer.
I learned so much from this workshop. Jon talked about everything from the different film types to sales & marketing, getting the correct exposure to workflow & time management. However, the thing that struck a chord with me most was when he spoke about his family. He explained photography was his passion – a part of who he is – but it’s his wife and children who are his first priority. How he runs his business is important, because it allows him to give more time to his family. It seems that life and photography work together in harmony for Jon and that’s how it should be.
The thing about this workshop is that whether it’s your objective to abandon your digital camera and shoot 100% film or simply to dip your toes in and test the water, you’ll be inspired. This is not just a workshop about film, or even photography, it’s so much more than that. It’s about goals, aspirations and doing what you love. It’s about working hard, but working efficiently, so as not to compromise your relationships with those closest to you. It’s about becoming a master of your craft so you can offer the best possible service to your clients. It’s about following your dreams.