Why film photography is the only right way to start
When I started taking pictures, I started learning about film. In the digital age, I still film. The reason was that I was available then, and buying stock film wasn’t as expensive as it is now. Film photography has taught me a lot and made me a better digital photographer. This is why beginners should consider film photography the first step in their journey.
We live in a post-modern digital era, where AI is the new frontier of photo creation and everyone carries a camera in their pocket. Why would anyone want to film in this modern environment? After all, the current stereotype is that movies are primarily intended for millennial buffs who take outlandish still life shots and street portraits. At the same time, film can be a great tool for many photographers, especially beginners, as it allows you to slow down, focus on getting in-camera and, ultimately, forget about go to post-production. Here are these and many more reasons why film photography is a great way to start.
Balance patience and mindfulness
To me, the best thing about film photography is that it allows you to focus on balancing the number of frames you take per scene. You can only take a limited number of photos, which means every photo counts. It is very easy to spray and pray with a digital workflow, which can be detrimental to our creativity. Every shot on film camera is a well-thought-out decision. When you’re filming, you’re forced to slow down, observe what’s around you, and finally, think about why you took this photo. All of these lead to you being more attentive to your surroundings and more sensitive to mistakes. The result of this sensitivity is that you can take better photos on your digital camera with less slippage.
Another thing the movie has helped me nurture is a sense of anticipation and excitement. Waiting for the lab to develop my reels was the most exciting feeling of the whole process as you can only guess what the images will turn out to be. The development process itself can be filled with unexpected and unexpected results, both good and bad. All of this ultimately creates a very unique result, which would be quite difficult to think of and achieve in post-production. This teaches beginner photographers that happy accidents are something to be excited about, not upset. Anticipation and delayed gratification are things that are lacking in the modern photographic environment. This shows me that photography is about the journey and not necessarily about the end result.
Learn the fundamentals the hard way
If you want the full movie experience, get a camera from the 70s that doesn’t have a built-in meter. This is not my recommendation, but you can choose this option if you are inclined to do so. My first camera was the Canon EOS 300, which had a built-in meter and auto-rewind film. This makes the process easier while keeping it pure. I was able to learn how to expose with the meter’s recommendations, shoot both in automatic and manual modes, and learn how to use the camera professionally. It’s important to make sure to do it right, which is difficult without immediate feedback. The only thing that made me check was the gauges. I quickly learned to meter by eye and now I can easily walk into the room and say exactly what settings I need to expose a photo. Another important factor is that if you mess up the exposure, you won’t have much room to play with unless you know how to push and pull the stock of film. It’s an art, and it’s really not for beginners.
Also, the absence of post-production makes the process much easier than digital. As a beginner, there is a lot to learn, and arguably the most important thing to learn is how to use the camera, and now how to edit photos in Photoshop. Each film stock has a distinct look that helps create that kind of realistic film color. This makes the image ready as soon as the movie is developed. Film stock is hard to replicate on digital cameras, so why try to fake it when you can? My favorite movie store is the classic Kodak Portra 400. That’s ISO 400, which allows you to shoot in lower light while also producing very deep and smooth tones that complement portraits very well. Another type of film that I really like is the Kodak Tmax 100. This is a black and white film that is great for capturing rich and contrasting black and white scenes. If I were to go back to filming, these are the stocks I would use the most.
Film is tangible; you can actually pick up your photos and watch them come to life in real life. The feeling of creating film prints in an authentic way is hard to compare with anything else. The physics of the film—loading, scrolling, hearing the shutter, ascending, and evolving—all add up to provide a purer experience. This is an experience you must have as a photographer to understand the value behind your work. It’s easy to shoot a bunch of digital without thinking too much. The experience is more real on film, which makes it so much better. Having to slow down and think about each frame makes photography intentional and pure. I just had a similar experience shooting with a medium format camera. Forcing to slow down helps me create better photos. Now I try to create such things using a digital full-frame system.
For film camera recommendations, I would recommend anything from the 90s that has a built-in meter. For example, the Canon EOS 300 is a great, inexpensive way to start photography, and you can add any EF lens to this camera, making it a great investment for the future. Such a camera typically costs between $20 and $50 and sometimes comes with a kit lens. It’s a junk lens, but it will take pictures.