At least half of my desire to continue to shoot film is emotional not rational or logical. There I said it and I feel better now. We are emotional beings aren't we? It can't be all bad that I choose to do things that are driven by those emotions. Isn't that why we make pictures of things in the first place?
I guess the rest of the reasons I shoot film left over from the at least half part are rational but let's ditch them for today as I am sure that I can out rational those reasons any day of the week with digital image capture logic. Here are just a few of the more emotional drivers for me off the top of my head.
- I love the tools for shooting film. The light tight boxes we call cameras. The ones that I love are not the F5 or the EOS-1v or the Nikon 6006. You know the ones that are a whole lot like DSLR's are today. I like cameras that are elegant and are a work of art in their own right. They are simple and elegant in function. They may be horribly complex in construction and have 2000 individual parts like the Nikon F2 but you can actually see and appreciate how they work. They are simple and direct in the way they connect you to their function. They are made out of materials that are beautiful. There is obvious care and art in their finish and craftsmanship.
- I love film camera viewfinders. Not all of them but the ones that I use the most. I like looking through them. In many cases my favorite cameras have viewfinders that are actually inspirational. Like the Nikon F2, the Olympus OM-1, and especially all of Hasselblad's newish 500 and 200 series with new-ish prisms. By comparison modern DSLR viewfinders are a mess. EVF's - yeah right.
- I like getting new boxes of film of all formats. I guess it's a bit like christmas with every new little batch of film. The little boxes are cool. The design and typography on the boxes is cool. The little techno mumbo jumbo is cool. The packaging is cool. Whether it is 35mm cassettes, 120 spools, or sheets the products themselves are like little pieces of perfection in craft - pristine, blank, ready to do your bidding with unlimited potential and endless possibilities all wrapped up in a self contained tangible physical object that you can hold and feel. I even like the smell of it. I like the edge artwork on the film. It's amazing that it works at all and it's amazing how little it costs for what it actually is and how it's put together.
- I love getting my images back - no matter whether I develop them myself of I get them from the lab. It's even better than christmas. Seeing the actual stuff that was in the camera at right in front of the subject with the scene that was in front of it etched on that material with my own eyes and nothing in the way.
- The material is beautiful in so many ways. I relish the fact that you can see the medium that was used. When you look at it under magnification you can see it's physical structure and it is gorgeous in it's own right. In some cases even damage caused by human interaction with the medium is beautiful.
- I like that there are limits inherent in film that force you to chose a particular path and abstraction prior to making an image. I like some of the inherent integrity of film. I like that film is real. It is what it is and that is that rather than some lie made to look like something it is not. I don't even understand what the point is in simulating film artifacts in digital. Isn't that why Instagram is so so popular? It certainly is not that it allows you to transmit massive amounts of native cell camera images to millions of people constantly - lot's of things do that. Look ma, it's square and looks like I shot it on an SX-70? Hmmm I don't get it. Film borders on digital images? I don't understand what this means.
- I like that I didn't give a hoot if film ever got better. Sometimes it did but in a lot of cases it was a pain in the ass when it got better. I like the stability of having at least one thing nailed down and fixed over a long period of time. Film causes me no anxiety and never has in terms of what particular film or camera I have chosen to shoot a subject with. Digital has caused me nothing but anxiety if my files or sensor was not the absolute newest one available. This happens for a bunch of different reasons - most of them external. Photographers can deny digital makes them feel this way all they want but I find that to be a lie. If it wasn't they would all be shooting with cameras made in 2004 that were proclaimed perfectly suited for what they were shooting. Come to think of it 2004 cameras were probably perfectly fine. I guess the nirvana of more options is the siren song that I found is a huge distraction and utterly worthless. Less options before, during, and after making an image is in many many ways better for me.
There, my confession is out. No rational reasons today just my emotional reasons for shooting film. This is not new to me, I never liked E6 slide film either. I never liked my Nikon F5 or my F4. I sill like my Nikon F2's better than any other 35mm SLR I have ever used. I liked my 503CW better than my H2. I have always liked TRI-X over TMAX 400. I like reading words off paper rather than a monitor any day of the week. Just because I do.
Ps. Image at the top is a 40x magnification of TX when viewed at full size.