So back in 2015 I decided to step away from digital photography, at least at the camera end and concentrate on film photography only, 2 years later and I'm going to spend another year shooting film. Back then I never used a digital camera at all, my year was to be film only. This time I'm going to mix and match to compare the differences and experiences directly.
So why bother? In simple terms I believed that to progress, slow down, understand and look for more meaning in my work, it's necessary to keep fresh, and well the truth is I really enjoy the real film process and using a camera in a more thoughtful way. In a digital world pace and speed is King, an afternoon street walk delivering 400 plus photographs, 400 to upload and probably 399 to delete! I can also get trigger happy, nothing to stop me clicking away asides space on the memory card, ‘Make it easy for yourself on the streets’ autofocus, auto iso, aperture priority… ‘getting the shot is the most important thing’!
The thing is it isn’t always as simple as that. Understanding the process of why you’re taking pictures, and slowing down to consider all aspects of the situation before pressing the shutter button is a truly enlightening thing. Sometimes shooting digital distracts me. Which is a strange thing I know, surely making life easier should mean you're free to get the shot, right? So why do I feel the need to complicate my process and actually make life more difficult?
The answer at least in part is to continue to learn. Back to 2015 again and shooting film meant learning to develop all my own film, I scanned the developed negatives, all the pictures you see here have passed through my hands without any other influence and I love them. I feel more attached to them, they say more to me, my connection to photography has surpassed what it was before and that my friends is priceless believe me.
Of course I also love the digital ways, and as I've said there are times and places where my digital camera will be the one in my hand, but the real magic can definitely come from film.
If you need a little inspiration, want to challenge yourself, then try shooting, developing and scanning your own film. I guarantee you’ll love it. Then there’s that quality, that timeless grain… you don’t need a preset in Lightroom to achieve it, just a roll of film (I use Ilford HP5) and a film camera (I use a Leica M6) hey presto it’s there for real!