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.






7 thoughts on “Film photography in a digital world

  1. I agree, whatever works for you. But isn’t having someone else scanning and print your work akin to shooting JPEG? It’s still not digital but the person scanning your film must be hitting a preset and going for middle grey? But many good photographers didn’t print their photos either so whatever.


    • Maybe, but some labs work can work with you with scanning preferences. For me the process of shooting film & the final look regardless of constraints has a look I really like. I shoot digital also & love the Fuji X series Jpegs but for me is still not as satisfying a process as shooting film

      Liked by 1 person

      • Cool. Around here we are lacking labs and I dont shoot enough film to send them off in the mail. I agree, film does have a different quality.

        My main issue is that digital medium format is out of my reach. You just don’t get the same perspective with smaller formats.


  2. Pingback: On not developing and printing (right now) | Aesthetic Enquiry

  3. Nothing wrong with that approach, after all that’s what millions of amateur photographers used to do – just take shots and then pass the roll of film to the local chemist shop for processing – with no preselection whatsoever, total reliance on Joe Blogs himself, with occasional disappointment so often outweighed by the excitement of opening the print envelope and the satisfaction of seeing your own prints, whatever the quality!


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