Heartbreaking: I won’t shoot film! Should you?

 In For Photographers

Despite my love for film, I am a digital person. Recently I have been following rants and raves of photo bloggers about film photography, and I made up my mind. Despite coming very close to buying a beautiful film camera, I decided against it. In this post I will shed some light on my thoughts about shooting film, the rationale behind my decision of going on shooting digital and some words of advice for those of you who are considering shooting film.
Are you ready to tumble down the rabbit hole of a heartbreaking decision not to shoot film?

The slow pace of film, the pro

One of the things that always drawn me closer to film photography is the set of limitations you, as photographer, face. Probably the most important is the fact that film forces you to be more careful to the number of frames you take. You need to be more deliberate in the way you use your camera, as your film has limited number of frames and it is not feasible to shoot ten to twenty rolls of film per shoot. I have heard a lot of criticism to this way of thinking, but I still consider this a major factor in film photography. More than that, I believe that is is an important path to grow as photographer. Carefully weighting your trigger, failing to take the right image is something that will teach you to recognise “the moment” before it happens.

The slow pace of film, the con

Being aware of what is going around you, carefully picking the moment to trigger your camera, is an important skill every photographer should master; however, there are many areas in which film slow pace may be more a foe than a friend. My first and most important point here is in regards of post processing. In my digital workflow, an hour after a photo shoot, my images are already imported, classified, culled and backed up. If I were to shoot film, I would reach the same point with a couple of days later. I am not saying this is wrong per-se, but for the way we work, this is not the best way.

Changing light

Once, during a location shoot, one of our cameras broke. I could not change the ISO of the camera, and I had to push myself to the limit in order to capture maintain the right exposure (and some luck due to a very constant weather). Living in London, a constant weather, therefore a constant light, is a luxury. It is not uncommon to range between ISO200 and ISO1600 in a single photo session. Shooting digital is a luxury from this perspective, as it simplifies every photographer’s life. Not if you are shooting film though. While shooting film, you have to set a fixed film sensitivity for the next 36 exposures. This is going to force you to stretch you camera (or skills) to the limit if the weather changes significantly.

All in all, while I remain in love with the idea of shooting film, I consider myself a digital photographer. The main reasons are simple: I have developed a great digital workflow, both while I am shooting and when I am working in post production. The true part, though, is that I don’t think my heart is in film, at least not enough to make me shift, even partially, from my digital (especially since I moved to Fuji).
While I would love to slow down, I doubt I would enjoy the ride as much as I do now. I don’t need to refrain myself from taking too many photographs, and I would get many of the disadvantages of shooting film.

What about you? Are you a hardcore film shooter? Are you torn like I am, or do you feel that digital is the only way to go? Let us know your thoughts and feelings!

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Showing 2 comments
  • Rachel Vogeleisen

    I have grown up with film and love film, I understand the challenges though regarding lighting especially in the UK. To use film the safe bet would be to shoot between 10 and 3pm. Kodak Portra 800 is amazing for skin tones and portraits !! I use film for my personal and travel work where I can devote it to a specific project. I might start integrating a few film rolls in my work flow with clients, there is a fantastic lab called http://ukfilmlab.com/ doing all the scanning and editing for you, there is nothing to retouch when you receive your films back.

    • Carlo Nicora

      Hi Rachel,
      Yes, the idea of incorporating some film in our normal workflow for our customers came to our mind, but in the end we decided to put our money in other fields to better serve the customers themselves.
      I am sure my doubts will come back again in the future… and then I will re-consider the idea once more! :)
      Thanks for the link BTW, always appreciated!

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