Why I Love Shooting Film

How you can incorporate the benefits of shooting film into your own photography

It's been a year and a half now (as of writing this) since I swapped my Canon 5D for all analog equipment. At the time it I thought I was mad, but now I don't see myself going back. I decided to jot down why I like film so much and what it does for me. Hopefully it'll convince you who haven't tried film before to give it a shot (pun intended), and hopefully you fellow film shooters can relate.

The Workflow

The first big change I noticed is in my workflow and the way I photographed. Because the amount of shots I can take per roll is limited I am forced to take my time and think about what shots I want to make, their composition, if the light is exactly right etc.
At first it was terrifying but now I feel much more confident about each shot I take. I know that, when I take the shot, it's exactly the photo that I wanted to make.

Film also forced me to create some much needed distance between me and my work, because I couldn't instantly see what I shot. When I got the roll back and I had some time to reflect on the shot, I can appreciate it much more than when I saw it instantly.
I can't stress enough how much that distance has helped start appreciating my work more for what it is.

I also don't spend as much time in post, which is something I really hated. Every film has it's own look and I noticed I started gravitating more towards certain films and stuck with those.
While shooting digital I was taught to hate grain, but when I shot film, I started liking grain a lot to the point where I shoot most of my portraits on grainy film (Kodak Tri-X).

The Gear

You just gotta love that old gear man. There's nothing like going out and looking down on your picture from a tlr (twin lens reflex camera), pulling the trigger and hearing that mechanical shutter fire.
There’s also something magical about 6x6 (square), 6x7 and 4x5 frames.
It's not something I can explain in words, it’s definitely something you should try for yourself!

The Process

The process is also something I fell in love with. From the moment I frame the picture in the field, through the development of the negatives, to I scan it, every decision I make decides how the final image will look.
It’s something that sounded terrifying, but once I started getting better and better at it, it became incredibly rewarding to see how each frame turns out.
I started enlarging my prints recently, and I find it much more rewarding than printing them from a pc. It's something I'm still new to, but I'm loving every moment of it.

In Conclusion

All these factors might seem like limitations. But these limitations ultimately ended up giving me more freedom. I really do feel like my work has evolved.
If there’s one thing I’d like you to take away it’s this: Try to make choices in your photography, and stick to those choices. Sometimes it's okay to limit yourself. You’ll be surprised about your own creativity and what you can make within those limitations.

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