Film photography in a digital world

When someone says to me “but you don’t develop your own films or have a darkroom, why bother shooting film” I always equate it with the football analogy of I can’t be a proper fan unless I go to away games.

To stick with the football analogy for a second.  I have been a Manchester United supporter since I was 6 years old, I have been to Old Trafford to watch games and watch them on TV as much as possible and keep up to date with what is going on with them.  To some this makes me an armchair/plastic supporter and not a true fan that goes every week.

Well its the same with film photography, I don’t develop my own film mainly due to time constraints.  I have a circa 3 hour round trip commute during the week and like to keep weekend for family time.  I completely get the many many advantages of developing my own film and the control it would give me in terms of the images I want to produce.

Likewise I also get the lab to scan my images (I do own a scanner, but see above).  So aside from some post processing I don’t have full control of my output in this sense either.

I also need to make time to go out and actually take pictures

When I first started getting film processed I also had the lab print everything. I stopped this pretty quickly because, A it was expensive and B there were never 36 keepers.  So now I selectively print the keepers from the digital scan via a print lab.  Thus I have again lost some control of the final output.  I would love to have a darkroom (or regular use of one) but it is not practical right now for my circumstances.

Therefore you could say why bother, just shoot digital only instead if that is all I am going to do.  Yet with digital it is still the sensors view of my idea, it is still the Jpeg’s (yeah thats right I don’t shoot raw either) interpretation.  It’s still my screen calibration of the colours and the printers take of my settings.

So where am I going with this.  I admire and envy those that have full control of the film process from camera through to darkroom print but it’s not suitable for me right now, I hope one day it will be.

I shoot film because I the look of it despite my constraints around the control of the output.

But mainly I shoot film because I really enjoy it so I make it fit around my lifestyle the only way I know how.






“Oh you like photography, what style do you like to shoot best?”

I’m sure most of you have had that or a similar question asked once or twice by colleagues or when you are out and about.  If you are a professional it is probably something you can answer.

I have never been able to answer that question and I have often asked myself the same.  This is my hobby so I haven’t needed to have the discipline to focus on one style.

For want of a response I normally say something like I really like Black & White but like all types of photography.


Part of me never cared and I felt why should I narrow my options and put a label on what I like to shoot.  Obviously one answer was film photography but that doesn’t really answer the question.

I like music and have a wide range of types of music I like, but ultimately one or two genres are mainly what I listen too.  Thus why should this be different with photography.

When I walk around with my camera sometimes I am hunting around for something to photograph and this can enventually lead me to take a few shots for the sake of it


When I get my photos back I look at some and whilst a few are OK others I can see that I have tried too hard (and failed) to find an interesting shot.

Thus I have had this urge to work out what is my style.

There are too many genres to list: Street (whatever that means these days), Portrait, Architecture, Landscape, Macro etc etc.


These genres also feel too defined and too narrow to me.

This morning I was sitting on a bus in traffic daydreaming when suddenly it came to me, I do have a style I like and something I would like to pursue and improve on.


It comes back to why I enjoy photography in the first place. For me it’s about being out there on my own with my camera.  Taking some time and space away and just switching off from the world.  I like to take in the surroundings and just observe and be at peace.


So before I reveal what it is, let me tell you what knowing this means to me.

It means I can now concentrate on this aspect of my photography. It means I will be less concerned about trying to find any old shot. It means that I understand what photography brings to me and why I enjoy it as a hobby.


This has also clarified a few other things for me.  I currently have quite a few rolls of expired & discontinued film which I will very much enjoy shooting.  That said however longer term I will concentrate only on new film, partly to support the manufacturers that are out there and partly so I can learn that film’s uniqueness and how to take better pictures with it.


So what is my style?

Its not a specific genre or colour. It doesn’t fit neatly into a box.  My photography going forward is going to reflect the reasons why I do it in the first place.  I will shoot simple, calm and peaceful images, minimum fuss and noise because that why I do it in the first place and my photography should be a reflection of me.


Ghostly Exposures and the winner is……

So if you recall I set-up a competition for one of my twitter followers to win an Olympus MJU II Zoom 80.

Thank you to all that entered. There were some really great images entered. It was a very difficult decision to choose the winner, but before announcing them here are the other one’s that for me made the final cut, in no particular order

Matt Parry (@mparry1234) with this spooky pinhole image


Emulsive (@emulsivefilm) with this ghostly scene


Preschelle Ann (@preschelleAnn) with this haunting portrait


Tim Dobbs (@timdobbsphoto) with this shot of a scary figure


But for me this one was the winner.  The choice of film, the location, the colour shifts and the multiple exposure made this one stand out for me.  Look at it closely and you will see more and more shapes and ghostly figures on the bench and the hand on her face whilst her hand is resting on her leg is just great.

So congratulations to Ashley Williams (@grumpyfck) for submitting this winning image: