I have struggled with explaining this lately. They see me with a camera, and ask “is that film?”, and when I tell them “yes” they immediately jump to “why?!”.
It’s hard to explain, because in today’s world of iPads, Androids and Google Glasses we all think that moving forward with the next best thing is always better. I admittedly buy into that thought process. I have a nice computer, a nice smartphone, a nice tablet and a nice DSLR. So then what’s up with the film?
A blog that I subscribe to, http://www.stevehuffphoto.com, had a submission today that I think sums it up Arthur Kroisel:
“What I realized by the time with shooting film with those pieces of art was pretty much the opposite of what my thoughts about photography were before. Whenever I shot digital I wanted to have the best, cleanest, sharpest files you can get. My craving for better lenses and equipment had become more and more the more I got into photography. The thing is with film: You don’t get that. At least I don’t. I don’t get clean files. At all. When I shoot my Delta 400 at 800 ISO and compare it to 800ISO on my 5DmII, well, I quite simply can’t. Furthermore I develop the films myself (I only shoot black and white film, which is really simple/cheap to develop) and then scan them…
What I came across during my process of becoming a better photographer was that it’s less important how perfect a shot is, but much more how much emotion it triggers inside of you. That is why I love film. It just has its own emotion and mood in all it’s imperfections. Photography is all about freezing the moment and the emotion at a particular time. If a photographer manages to do that, to make others feel the emotions, he/she has done her job right.”
He nailed it. Photography isn’t about getting the perfect looking file, or about getting the sharpness absolutely accurate with no noise. Even with film, it isn’t about the dynamic range capabilities or the grain. It’s so much more than that, and arguably a lot more difficult. It’s “about freezing the moment and the emotion at a particular time”. And this goes hand in hand with another saying I like to tell people: “the best camera is the one you have”.
If you don’t have a nice Leica or 5DmkIII, it doesn’t matter, just take out the one you have and take a photo. For me, that’s film, since it’s cheap and it’s a joy to work with. For you, it might be your camera phone, or a digital point and shoot your Mom used to use. It doesn’t matter. As long as you’re capturing the moment, you’re doing things right.