Why I'm A Film Photographer

I recently made the switch from digital photography to film photography. I'm a portrait photographer, and as of last week I officially photograph all of my client work on 35mm film. 

To most photographers you'll meet (under the age of 40), the thought of shooting on film is downright terrifying. The scariest thing is that we can't see what we create until we get it back from the lab. 

In the age of cheap digital cameras (phones), immediate feedback on a memory card, and the wonders of Photoshop and Instagram filters, almost anyone can take a decent photo. Once you have a camera, it's completely free to practice your new craft. There is no limit to the number of photos you can take. You can look at each photo you take and make adjustments based on what you see on the back of your camera. You don't need to think about the technical stuff, 'cause you can always fix it in Photoshop if it doesn't come out quite right. Mistakes are free! 

That is exactly how I've been coasting through in my photography career. To be fair, I did go through quite a bit of education around the technical part of photography, but I didn't really HAVE to pay attention to the details, because I could take 600 photos in an hour, and I was bound to have at least 30 keepers out of the bunch. 

Enter: film. 

I took a film photography course this summer through my photographers association (Professional Photographers of America). I brought my Ricoh KR-5 Super (circa 1978) that was given to me by my brother for Christmas a few years ago. 

Left: Examining my first roll of film. Right: Final prints.

Left: Examining my first roll of film. Right: Final prints.

We worked with two beautiful models and I shot a roll of film with each of them. After lunch, we met up at our local photography lab Photographique. We went into the darkroom, pried open the film canisters and developed the film by hand. This was the most exciting part of the whole day! Until now, I had no idea what the photos would look like. Would they be too dark? Too bright? Out of focus? Blurry? This was the moment of truth, when I would find out if I have any photography skills at all. 

When I unrolled the developed negatives in my hands, I was ecstatic! It was like Christmas morning on steroids. I had created something REAL. For any artist, craftsman or creative, there is certainly no greater joy than admiring something you create with your own two hands. I was holding my art. I was so happy I could have cried. In that moment, I knew I wanted more of this. 

There are endless blog posts about "Why I Shoot Film" online, and it all boils down to this. We are creators. As long as humans have existed on earth, we've been creating with our hands. It's a deep need we have to be connected to that which we create, and I believe that film photography satisfies that need in our inner artist. 

Now that you know more about the beginning of my film journey, check out why I think film photography is making a comeback in my next post:  3 Reasons Why Film Photography is Back in Vogue

And if you're interested, here's a quick video loading film into my Nikon F6. 

What questions do you have about film photography? Have you been interested in trying it out? Comment below and let me know what you're curious about!