I know what you’re thinking: Why are you shooting film when digital cameras are cheaper, faster, produce better quality, and are more reliable to use?
As a wedding photographer for Goldensun Photography Studio, I must admit that it’s impossible to avoid shooting with digital for those same reasons. However, I believe that shooting with film has helped me improve my craft and I consciously enjoy it as well. Art is subjective, therefore my reasons for doing film may or may not be different from yours.
It almost sounds counter intuitive because as creators, we strive for perfection in our art. Especially for us photographers, we chase perfection by constantly upgrading our gear with higher pixels, higher frame rates, and higher dynamic range. We forget that improving as photographers or artists isn’t in the gear, but in the conscious repetition and constant learning.
During weddings, I would get into the most ideal position to spray and pray (also known as burst mode), hoping that a perfect photo was taken within those few seconds. Not only was I too busy spraying shots, I was not in the moment nor was I conscious about what I was taking photographs of. It was easy to mindlessly get lost shooting photos and hoping that I would get lucky to capture a few good shots.
Shooting film reminded me to slow down, enjoy the moment, and be conscious about what I was capturing. Yes, it is difficult to do in a fast-paced event such as weddings. It is also true that I can improve and not rely on luck (spray and pray method), but more on my ability as a photographer. With film, I am forced to take my time to hone my skills and consciously make note of what I should have done differently.
Awareness and Connection
Because every shot costs money, you begin to examine everything before pulling the trigger. You are forced to be more intentional with each and every shot. As corny as it sounds, you ultimately become more connected to your subject because of awareness.
There are times that I become addicted to chasing that perfect shot to post on Instagram. When traveling, I oftentimes become too fixated on looking for shots that would garner the most attention on social media. Unfortunately, this costs me the opportunity to enjoy the trip in the present and create a genuine memory. I could only recall looking at my LCD screen and planning out which one I would post next and how I should edit something.
Slowing down, examining the scene, and winding the film, makes me feel more connected and more aware. My inability to review the photo immediately after capturing it also allows me to be more present. When I look at the shots after the film is finally developed, the memories are still clear in my mind.
Shooting Film is Fun
Before the internet was this accessible, before video games, and definitely before smart phones, we were kids forced to interact with the world and use our creative minds to shape it. Film cameras, at least for me, have that similar magic. I am a lot more involved with my film camera than I was with my digital. I am forced to open my camera to load it up with film and manually focus on what I am trying to shoot.
Switching things up and experimenting with different types of film is another fun and easy way to keep things interesting. Film is inherently imperfect. No two images are ever the same due to grain, light leaks, and irregularities. However, there is beauty in imperfection, and the uncertainty adds to the fun. You can never be 100% sure what you are going to get despite being able to control the camera settings.
In writing this, I am not arguing which format is better. Both film and digital photography have their pros and cons. I will still shoot weddings digitally with Molly for Goldensun Photography, but film will still have a place in my personal and everyday moments.
With that said, I am curious to know if you’ve shot on film before? What film camera and film did you use?