Story by: Stuart
Something that made a big difference for me was switching to film. I tried a basic high end digital point and shoot (that still had some manual controls and shot RAW, almost a hybrid DSLR) and then my phone.
The price tag on the DSLR’s was just too much for something I wasn’t sure I wanted to get too into. Problem also was that I was sloppy with my photo taking when I was using digital.
I don’t feel like I improved very much and I’d go out to shoot and end up with hundreds of shots to go through and try to edit Photoshop to get them looking nice. Much of my time was taken up sorting through all those shots and trying to figure out which ones were worth editing. It put the emphasis on the back-end, rather than the adventure of being out in the world capturing it using the photographic process.
I didn’t feel motivated, so I wouldn’t practice my photography and would only go out to shoot sporadically and eventually not at all.
But, an old film SLR with a prime lens can often be had in good condition for about $40 or so, doesn’t require batteries except for the light meter, which probably isn’t working anyways and there are plenty of free phone apps that can do light metering. Then get some cheap film, read/watch a guide about the basics of film photography, and go out and do some shooting.
I fell in love with it right away. Like some people fall in love with the ritual of listening to music on vinyl. It takes time, patience, dedication, and investment unlike just saying “Alexa play The Beatles”.
Shooting with film is ritual and dedication and investment. You know that clicking the shutter may cost you about 50 cents each time once you factor in the cost of film and developing, but that’ll be a lot of shots before you spend as much on film as you would on a DSLR. And better yet, when you only have 24 or 36 exposures on a roll when you go out, you’ll begin to focus on making each shot count. And you’ll be thinking about the purity of photography since you’ll be limited on your tools as well and won’t be using Photoshop or software tools to fix your shots as much (if at all). And since you won’t be able to review your shots instantly on a screen, you’ll be thinking mentally about your photography, using your imagination about how your shots may look and thinking very carefully about your exposure.
So, now your focus will be where it should be, out in the world shooting pictures, and not distracted with screens or spending hours sifting through your hundreds of shots. Plus, you get the look of film because you are shooting with film, a look that is very hard to replicate with software and to me is very appealing.
Just my two cents, I know film isn’t for everyone, but it made a big difference for me after struggling to get into photography with digital.