DIGITAL, FILM, AND WALKING TO WHERE YOU’RE GOING
There’s still a lot of pushing and pulling with today’s photographers. Digital capture is part of our every day lives, but there are plenty of photographers who are still shooting film. Lots of film. And with the recent trends in retro or vintage styling and the technology driven film emulators we all hold in our hands, there are more people than ever driving the need for something authentic or real.
And there are arguments about what actually is authentic. If instagram is good enough, then why bother with film? If I can get a plug-in that adds grain to my images in post processing, then why expose, shoot, develop film?
Everything is starting to look the same, dumbed down digital tarrent of banal mediocre pictures, mainly of cats and/or cupcakes. Film shooters are the real artists, finely crafting their exposure almost as much as their philosophy. Film has a more organic feel to it. It is real, it’s decisive, and it’s true to light and life. You see the world, you take the shot. No spray and pray.
I still shoot film. Likely for all those reasons, but also because I’m moved by nostalgia and mainly just because. I’ll shoot landscapes, portraits, my kids, whatever. I love it, but I don’t think it puts me in the ‘Elite Photographers Who Know Best’ category. A lot of the film I shoot doesn’t end up on the internet. It’s largely deeply personal, or sometimes not good enough.
I shoot a lot of digital. I use instagram. I sometimes develop my digital files with film emulation software like VSCO Film. I mainly shoot digital at weddings because of the way I shoot weddings. I occasionally shoot some medium format film as well, as I did yesterday, but for me digital means I can move faster, without an assistant, and get the images I want for my clients. That’s me, it might be different for you.
The point is, none of it matters really. It’s about the same standard of ‘debate’ as the age old Nikon versus canon scratchiness you’ll find in forums up and down the internet. I’m just reading a lot of stuff lately on Twitter and on some blogs and it seems to be all about the fight. Film vs Digital still exists, but now it’s personal! I honestly don’t care what was used to make the picture. More often than not, and especially on the internet, people can’t see a difference anyway.
It just seems that a few photographers want to shoot film as a right of passage or as a qualifying leap into the upper echelons of real photography when digital photography is equal and just as real. I just think that if identifying shooting with film makes you feel more meticulous, worthy, and connected, then there is a chance that it’s not ‘digital’ that’s the problem. It’s more likely that you’re not connecting to the subject enough and that hiding behind a romanticised notion of being a more real version of “The Photographer’ is often hiding behind your own shortcomings in your technique. Maybe digital doesn’t give you enough room to be rough around the edges, and maybe film’s rough edges are a nice place to hide.
You can change the way that you shoot digital to experience almost the same process as shooting film. An easy trick is to shoot in manual mode, and turn off the image review. Don’t look at your pictures until later. You can shoot only film and create the most modern, stylish, contemporary imagery – if your technique is good and your workflow is rocking along, why not?
Importantly, if you find something that works for you then that’s great. Telling the world that any other way just isn’t ‘Fine Art’ or ‘Real photography’ or whatever doesn’t elevate you to the critic status your epiphany has conned you in to but perhaps only serves to show your insecurities.
I know, I know. Who cares?