Taking pictures on film today is like listening to vinyl records these days. It’s fun, but it’s not necessary. Modern technology has made such material things unnecessary. And anyway, most young people don’t even know about tape and vinyl.
Film, like vinyl, needs to grow up today. And when I say “grow up,” I don’t mean to imply a high level of development for the photographer at all. It’s more of an evolutionary side branch than a peak. Billions of people photograph digitally, but millions more find the pleasure of combining digital with film, or abandoning digital altogether and going back to analog processes. Today I’m going to tell you why film photography is still alive.
Film photography has its fair share of haters. The main subject of their attacks is the photos themselves. They don’t see the difference between digital and analog photography, and they don’t understand why you have to spend ten times as much energy if you get the same output as you would with a digital camera. By the way, they are right about the result. Today’s films have very realistic images, but the scanner makes them essentially digital. And add to that the processing in Photoshop!
In my opinion, the haters are missing the point. The key to understanding analog photography is not to expect results from it, but to see it as a process. Remember what Miyamoto Musashi said, “The samurai has no goal, only a path…” There in the sequel about death and it doesn’t fit the meaning anymore. But if you cut off the phrase like I did, you get an accurate description of analog photography.
When film was invented, its main function was to capture reality. There was no other photographic material (actually there was, but film quickly superseded all steel for its convenience and price). Today, as you can imagine, there is no problem with capturing reality. Film is definitely not needed for that. But then what is it still made for?
Film is made and sold and becomes more expensive every month because people buy it. Every photographer finds his or her own thing in film. Quite a large stratum of analog photographers are geared for the final image. But even the worst haters don’t argue that there’s a lot of work on the way to that final image. Shooting on film is a more labor-intensive process than digital photography. If you do all the steps yourself, it’s disproportionately more labor intensive.
The difficulty of shooting on film is the “samurai’s way”. That’s the beauty of film, which is difficult and energy-consuming compared to digital. You either like it or you don’t understand it. The rest is scholasticism. A person who doesn’t like to work with film can’t be carried away by any result. And someone who enjoys it doesn’t care about the result.
I understand analog photography as a material process. The physically tangible film, its limited sensitivity and its light requirements convince me that I am doing the real thing. This feeling is reinforced when I develop and scan the film. All of this requires real physical labor. As a result, I have negatives, images, and a sense of a job well done. I spent money, time, effort on it and ended up with a tangible entity. I thought in the process and it made the tangible thing noticeably better than the intangible digital images, where I feel no hardship, no limitation, no pleasure.
Video is now supplanting photos, just as mp3 on CDs supplanted vinyl records. You don’t need a camera to shoot video, the iPhone does it just fine. Which means if you want to keep taking pictures, you have to have a good reason to do so. Film is one of them. And I suspect this will encourage a lot of people to go into film photography. Especially since today you don’t have to learn the chemistry in the darkroom anymore, and you can develop and digitize film in a darkroom. And the films themselves are divided into professional and expensive Kodak Portra 800 level and mass budget films like Kodak Gold 200. Black and white films are even cheaper.
Thanks to a service like ours, you can mimic analog photography by shooting with your digital camera. We edit the pictures so that they are as similar to the reference as possible (using a scan of the film). Of course, this is not the same as shooting yourself on film, carefully selecting the camera settings and lighting. But thanks to InPixMe’s editors, many photographers stand out with their work among their competitors on social networks and portfolios on the official website.
You shouldn’t think of film photography as a cult. It is foolish to worship it as an idol. You shouldn’t compare film photos to digital photos. It doesn’t make sense. Like any hobby, analog photography needs a buzz. If you don’t like running, you don’t understand runners. And you’re not convinced by their lean figures. If you don’t like the process of film photography, you won’t be convinced by the result. Which, by the way, may not be!
But what I do know is that you won’t know whether you like film or not until you try it!