Film Photography

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.



16 thoughts on “Film Photography

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  1. I really want to get into photography, I have the tools, well no DSLR here, but I have a nice digital and a nice film camera (granted it is almost 50 years old, but it was top of the line) and I have a couple of lenses and loads of filters. I bought a photography course I need to start looking at. I love the instant gratification of my digital, but I get what you are saying. And I miss the really great macro for my film. This was a nice piece to read. Maybe when pandemic ends I’ll put some attention in that direction! Thanks! Great blog!

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  2. I’m not sure if they still make Ilford (black and white) products, but they were popular in the eighties (especially for their photographic paper)


  3. Interesting idea… my first serious camera was film (because it was a long time ago). Now I’m wondering about going back to film. Weird question: is it still easy to find film In F2F retail shops? And then how easy is it develop nowadays? Thanks!


  4. Thanks for sharing my story! Just to clarify, I have nothing against digital of course. I just found film really worked for me in getting into and improving my photography. Also, you picked out my primary film camera for your featured image, cool! Cheap little 60’s workhorse that is a nice starter film camera.


  5. You’re right about the film cameras being very inexpensive to buy used. Actual film is getting harder to find in some areas.

    My dad, who is 92, actually shoots slides, if you can believe that. My sister has to help him put the developed slides into the frames because no shops will do that any more.


  6. I knew you had a gift and now I know how you developed your gift. Thanks for the insight. I have worked with lots of couples, in preparation for officiating their marriage’s. There is one individual that I encountered several years ago that I recommend to anyone looking for a photographer, as she does not just take a “million” photo’s, but she takes memorable photo’s and for the most part, you just don’t see her. The pictures after the service are obvious, but the ones I’m talking about are those “personal ones” like when I go to the bride and groom prior to the service where it is just me that the bride or groom and we pray together. The pictures are intimate and special and you just never see or hear her. Thanks for look into your gift, very honest and special.

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  7. I’m of an older generation, so I had plenty of practice with film, especially when I was at college, before I experienced digital, then albeit on an early iPhone or a FujiFilm FinePix point-and-shoot one of my daughters passed on to me! I think both have their merits: I like the immediacy & ease of manipulation of digital [plus you don’t end up with zillions of prints you’ll probably never look at again! 😉 ], but I always enjoyed the effects you could get with film, especially black & white, by pushing the boundaries. Cheers, Jon.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. That was the time! I still remember each click was precious and we were curious to see when film use to develop about how the photos came! Nostalgic. These days with digital cameras for one pose there are hundreds of shots! Haha….Time changes. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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