On shooting film in 2018

I love new experimenting and using new products. 

Endless possibilities where technology can take us. 

The first time I tried an Oculus VR headset was transformational. My car has some primitive autonomous driving capabilities but my mind is nevertheless electrified at the possibilities. My iPhone still feels like some sort of miracle. 

But I shoot film to make photographs that I care about. In 2018. 

First, before I write up why I shoot film, let me get all reasons not to shoot film these days. 

Film is expensive. It just is. 

Shooting film requires either processing and scanning at home or working with a pro lab. The former is super time consuming and I just don’t do it. The latter is expensive and can be frustrating at times. It’s not always easy and mistakes can drive you mad sometimes. 

It can be cumbersome to travel with. When I travel I bring along color film and black and white film. I often bring along 35mm and medium format film. And I always bring more than I need because I once ran out of film on a trip and that feels awful. Carrying the film is only part of the story. You need to take care of it. You can’t leave it in a hot car, and you must carry it on planes (do not check it in, the X-ray machines will fuck it up). 

And film cameras are often old and need servicing from time to time. Not always but my favorite film camera has been in service for a month and just came back today. Digital cameras today are all amazing.

But I still love film and couldn’t imagine making photographs without it. 

I love the feeling of being in control of the photograph. How I want the light to impact the image. Am I going for super contrasty or moody? Clean or grainy? Black & white or color? I need to make all these decisions before I compose, before I focus, before I press the shutter. Sometimes it can take a second and other times it can take an hour. 

Film photos are unique. The grain is different. The depth is different. The colors are often different. The warmth is different. The texture is different. One roll is often different than the next. 

Film cameras are a work of art. They are beautiful to hold and operate. My hands know where to go. My favorite film cameras don’t require batteries to operate. 

I love the way the process feels. I love taking the film out of the package. I love it takes me a little while to load the film. Rewinding a finished roll feels like an accomplishment. Sending the film to the lab fills me with possibilities. Getting the scans back is like Christmas morning. 

I love the slowness of film. I don’t spend hours post processing my photos. I don’t sit in front of a computer on vacation messing with thousands of images. I  make photographs and when I’m ready I send them to the lab. 

The film community is alive and is so positive. Less time talking about gear and more time sharing creative work, ideas and experiences. I cherish all the friendships in this community. 

Film photographs are not perfect but there is something so special about falling in love with the imperfection. 

I don’t know if I’ll be shooting film for the rest of my life, but I sure hope so.