Why I Still Love Film Photography

September 05, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

In a day in age has made things so instantaneous, sometimes we need things in our life to slow us down. Film is one of those things that slows my life down.

There is nothing “instant” about film photography. First off, there is no handy, dandy LCD screen in the back that shows you how great (or not so great…) your shot it. You can’t even tell if your shots until after the film is developed and you start using it to print on paper! Also there’s that frustration that you only have 36 images to use, instead unlimited, but that’s a subject for a different post.

Secondly, film takes time to develop. Here are the rough steps of what it takes to get just the film processed:

  1. Take used film out of camera! (1a. wind up film before opening the camera if your camera does not have this feature)
  2. Take the canister of film, a film real, a light tight film holder, scissors, and a film/can opener into a pitch black closet.
  3. Open film canister (hopefully the canister feels like behaving)
  4. Take film out of canister.
  5. Cut the little “L” shaped part of the film off.
  6. Start rolling the film on to the film real (again, hopefully the film feels like behaving)
  7. Cut film off of the last bit of the film canister once rolling is complete.
  8. Place the real in to the light tight film holder and take it out to your processing stations.
  9. (optional) Rinse film with water
  10. Use Developer, then dump it out.
  11. Use Stop, then dump it out.
  12. Use Fixer, then dump it out.
  13. Wash the film
  14. Use HCA, then dump it out
  15. Wash it again
  16. Then let it dry.

This entire process, if all goes well rolling the film, takes about an hour start to finish. And that’s not even getting to the prints! Prints, most of time, do not take this long to make. But compared to digital, it seems like it takes forever to get to 1 photograph in film photography.

But I like that. It gives me time to think, and relax, and not worry about what’s happening next. I already know what’s going to happen next. I know what I have to do to arrive at a final product. Sure there is some uncertainty in the process, like is my film going to turn out, did I develop just right, etc., but unexpected things happen all the time in digital photography too.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that sometimes, I appreciate the final product of a film photograph so much more because I felt productive, and I felt like I put a lot of effort into making it come alive. But please don’t make me choose between digital and film photography. I couldn’t!

Let me know what makes you slow down and why you like that.


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