Dec 22, 2012
My Story with Film: Part 2
If you do a google search on "why film," you will likely encounter words like nostalgic, warm, soft, and imperfect. While these adjectives do a decent job at describing the "look" of film; for me, there is something more. I'll get to that shortly, but first a recap.
In the first entry, I described my experience with switching to film and how using film makes me a better photographer. In short, shooting film encourages me to see more and to click the shutter less. It makes me think more about the picture I'm going to end up with. This increased seeing and thinking have led to more interesting and complete pictures. Not only have I found my pictures to be more complete, but they also have all of those wonderful visual qualities associated with film.
Even when I was shooting all digital, I knew I really liked the look of film images. I wondered why I couldn't get that look out of my very expensive digital camera. Like many photographers, I tried to find that one photoshop action that magically transforms a digital image into something that looks like film. Finally, after trying several action packs and spending several hundreds of dollars to do so, I figured out there is no such silver bullet. The best way to get the film look is - you guessed it, to shoot film. So what is it about the film look that I love? Sure, I love the soft, warm pallete of color film and the rich tonality and grain of true black and white film, but there is something else. I alluded to it in the opening, and I can't seem to quite put my finger on it. After thinking on it for some time, the word that I keep coming back to is- depth. To me, pictures shot on film, especially medium format film, seem to have a certain depth quality to them, almost as if the image is layered or textured somehow. I think this quality is the thing that keeps me coming back.
When you get right down to it, I just like the way film looks. It's natural; it's genuine; it's timeless. I like that the end result won't be dated in 5 years. I like that I don't have to update my camera or a piece of software to stay current. My goal is to produce timeless images that future generations can look upon and appreciate, and shooting film helps me do that.
That's it for Part 2. Next time, in my final entry on this subject, I'll talk about one other aspect of shooting film that I love so much. Until then, I thought I would leave you with an image that I think illustrates the "depth" quality I like so much.
Artwork in Santa Fe, NM: Leica M6 | Hp5