Why I’m still shooting film (along side my digital kit)

So 3 months ago I moved to London with the intention of following my dreams to be come the next big fashion and portrait photographer.
I always knew it would be a massive task to even get noticed! But I was totally under prepared for what the city had in store for me.

Imagine for every paid job offer there were 100 amateurs yelling that they’d do it for free.
The phrase “It’ll get you lots of exposure” ended up in my top ten things I hear each day!
(along with “don’t you think you’ve had enough coffee” and “Any chance you can do this TFP?”)
Just trying to get heard over the crowd was a gigantic task!

And I know this is beginning to sound like a rant…But here’s my point.

The amount of people able to afford an entry level DSLR is huge. With advances in post process and image sensors even a massively over exposed image can be saved, the composition corrected and the blemishes removed and still have enough quality to be printed.
Anyone with a DSLR can make a Facebook page and be a photographer and nothing any of the professionals do or say will ever change that.
To the photographers who are annoyed by it, don’t be. There is nothing you can do and getting angry about it is a waste of energy.
Or do get angry about it if you like. One of my latest sunday pass times is to go on various photography Facebook pages and watch professional photographers slate each others images with thinly veiled malice in the form of “constructive criticism” which I can only assume comes from some form of need to down tread your competition.

Anyways Film!!! Film cameras have been around for years, are relatively cheap to get hold of (try thrift shops or Gumtree) and since the advance of digital it has become something of a lost art.
And this is why it matters.

If you can show me that you can make a great image without and photoshop wizardry, That you understand light, exposure, composition and how film works I am far more likely to consider you a competent photographer than if you have an expensive dslr and spend hours in lightroom after fixing all your mistakes.
Of course it won’t matter what I think when it comes to your business but it will matter what your clients think. And to them, a digital photo is nothing new or special. Event their fucking phone has an 8megapixel camera with a 2.8 lens on it.
Get out your film camera, shoot 35mm, medium format, polaroids, whatever and have something in your portfolio that proves to your client that your a photographer, not a retoucher with a camera.

Obviously digital is amazing and useful and I don’t know where we would be without it. I’m not for one second saying that you should ignore it and it’s countless benefits just so you can be a hipster and carry round your TLR rolliflex. But it is so widely available to everyone that it almost devalues itself. This is why I still shoot on film. Not necessarily for all my clients or projects, and not because it can be a fashionable thing to do. But because having that skill matters.
Understanding light is the very basis of photography, and with film you have to get it right in camera.

*I know there will be a bunch of people stating that you could achieve countless effects in the darkroom and that retouching is nothing new. You’re totally right….but if you had a shitty negative to start with that wasn’t even exposed correctly you could only pull maybe one stop back on 100 asa film….not quite as much as Adobe have been managing recently….You get the point.

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One thought on “Why I’m still shooting film (along side my digital kit)

  1. Hi there. I use digital ( just took it up last March) and will go on doing so as I am a painter who likes to work with a restricted use of color and light ( varies with subject matter). I have been using the digital camera in the same way…. relying on a bit of camera tilt and what ever natural light there is to increase decrease aspects of what I see or want from available light . That’s it! (I rarely if ever use the editor, I am more likely to abandon stuff. I do not have ‘photoshop’ or want it ) As far as cameras, I do not know about filters or anything technical like shutter speeds! My whole point of making images through paint on paper, or canvas or with the camera is getting ‘you’ to see exactly what I want ‘you’ to see in any way possible I can at any given moment with the tools I have…… Which can involve a bit of poetry(I think it is poetry!) I actually see my camera as a very quick additional brush in my general set up. I do not consider myself to be a photographer, although I take thousands and I do not want to be called a photographer ( or a poet)! I am delighted with my ‘digital camera’ because I can do so much with it ( as in brush strokes). I do not paint anything I photograph, my camera is simply a new dimension for me, and I am delighted with the immediacy of it. I do not compete or argue with real photographers!!! Gill McGrath

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