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Why I still shoot film in 2023 & why you should too.

Updated: Jan 8

As digital cameras continue to improve, you may be questioning why you should shoot film in 2023. Shooting film has many benefits that make it a compelling choice for photographers, even in the digital age. Here are some of the top reasons to consider shooting film.

  • Film has a unique aesthetic quality that digital cameras cannot replicate. Film has a distinct look and feel that many photographers love, with organic colours and tones that are impossible to reproduce with digital technology. Much of this comes from the imperfections that stem from the physical nature of the medium. (Yes, you can replicate this in Photoshop & Lightroom, but it's not the same, no really, it's not.

  • Film is more challenging to use, which can make you a better photographer. Because film cameras don't have the same automatic features as digital cameras, shooting film requires more thought and planning. This can help you develop a stronger understanding of photography and improve your skills.

  • Film has a certain nostalgia and romance that digital lacks (commonly referred to as the "film aesthetic"). Many photographers love the look and feel of old photographs, and shooting film allows you to create images that have a timeless quality.

  • Film forces you to be more intentional with your photography. Because film is more expensive and limited than digital, shooting film can make you more selective about what you choose to photograph. Being limited to 10, 12, 24, or 36 frames can force you to prioritize your strongest scenes/subjects. This can help you create more thoughtful and meaningful images.

  • Film is more archival and sustainable than digital. Because film negatives and prints can last for decades or even centuries, shooting film can help ensure that your images will be preserved for future generations. In contrast, digital files are vulnerable to obsolescence and require constant migration to new storage formats. Not to mention, film can always be rescanned using updated tech.

  • Film cameras are often more affordable and accessible than digital cameras. Many film cameras are available at a fraction of the cost of digital cameras, making them a great option for photographers on a budget. Additionally, there are many vintage and used film cameras available, allowing you to experiment with different formats and styles.

So, why am I still shooting film in a digital world?

I like the simpler things in life, film gives me relaxation.

When I'm shooting with film, I've got to think about what I'm shooting, because well, film is expensive and I don't like wasting money. If I'm paying around £15 for 36 shots, that's 42p per shot! I know you might be thinking (42p, that's pennies) yes if it's just 42p it is, but if I'm constantly throwing 42p away it soon adds up! So knowing that I can't just look at my screen after I've taken the shot and if I don't like it, just delete, it forces me to slow down and think about what I'm doing. This without a single doubt has made me a better photographer. Now when I do use my digital camera, I'm also applying that same logic to my shots, as if I've got a roll of film inside.

Shooting film means that I need to know my craft, I don't have something to do everything for me, everything is manual. I have to manually focus & I have to manually expose. If my focus is off or my exposure isn't right, it's not just a case of "fixing it in post" everything has to be right, in camera, the first time, or again, I've wasted money, which we've already discovered that I don't like doing. I now can't tell you how many times I've looked at a scene with my eyes and thought to myself "That would be 1/250 at F/8" and then metered it out of curiosity and been absolutely right. That gives me a sense of overwhelming joy.

Digital looks too digital... Now I know you're probably reading that and thinking "what?" but hear me out when shooting digital, everything is so sharp and so perfect, it completely lacks any sort of character, any sort of excitement, it just all looks the same...

When shooting with film, you've got tons of different film stocks, all with different characteristics and flaws that just make it so much more perfect when you get your negatives back from the lab to see what you've shot, to see whether your shot is as you imagined it would be and to see what the final image looks like.

PRINTING! There is no greater feeling of achievement when you get your negatives back and you print that image that you've essentially taken completely bind and it looks so much better than you could have ever imagined. When you hang that image on your wall and say to yourself "I did that" with an overwhelming sense of achievement and pride.

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