It’s been a while since I’ve done a personal post on the blog so I figured I would share my thoughts on something that has been important to me both personally and professionally….shooting film. If you’re reading this and you’re a Facebook friend, you’ve probably seen photos of my vast collection of film cameras (~ 25 or so at last count) along with the hundreds of film images I’ve posted there. If you’re not a Facebook friend you need to get on board, because you’re really missing out on some good stuff.
That’s a question I get asked pretty often. Many people are surprised to hear that film still exists and are even more surprised to hear that there are people that still shoot it. I’m here to tell you that film is indeed still alive. Let’s face it: We live in a digital age where everything is instant. You can snap a photo with your phone and have it online for the world to see in a matter of seconds. I know, I’ve done it. Even though I use digital cameras for my professional work, I rarely leave home without taking at least one of my film cameras along for the ride. Just about all of my personal shooting is done on film. Whether it’s people or still life, I tend to shoot things that are vastly different from my wedding work.
I can tell you that I practically grew up with it. I shot and developed my first roll of film when I was 11 or 12 years old in my 5th grade teacher’s darkroom. My teacher Mr. James Paley invited a few of his students and our parents over to his home. We shot some film and developed it in his darkroom. We each made a darkroom print to take home with us (digital printing didn’t exist back in those days). That was my very first exposure to film developing. I have no idea where that print is now, but the feeling of being hands-on throughout the creative process has never left me. It’s followed me all of my life. I’ve always been a very hands-on person. I’ve built car engines from scratch. I’ve built computers from scratch. In fact, the computer I’m blogging from right now was built from scratch a couple of years ago. The aquarium system we have at home sits on a stand I built (from scratch) and is filtered by a filter system I built myself….yep, from scratch. You get the point. Shooting and developing my own film is as gratifying as anything I’ve done. To be hand-on with the process from the time the shot is taken to when the film is developed and the negatives are scanned is what excites me.
I feel that shooting as much film as I do for personal projects has really helped change the way I shoot digital for my professional work. That’s a huge deal for me. I tend to shoot less because I’m more confident of my ability to get the shot I want the first time around. I’m not using the unlimited “ammunition” of the digital camera as a crutch. I see things better and I’m more thoughtful about the subject matter and the timing of my shots. I don’t really waste shots, even though the option to do so is still there. My mindset has changed to the point where I see and approach things differently. I’ve honed my focus to look for and shoot things that are meaningful. That is the main focus when I shoot weddings and shooting film has played a big part in that.
Here’s a small sampling of some of the film images I’ve taken over the course of the past year or so. Every one of these images was shot by me and developed at home lab…..the kitchen sink.