9.10.2016

Why I'm starting to shoot film photography



So it's 2016, we're in this era where the future of technology is booming. We're seeing some incredible tech that we only thought we'd marvel at in movies and science fiction, just a decade ago. Now we have phones that are capable of shooting DSLR-like quality photos. That's insane. It's hard to really sit back and just appreciate what we already have because technology continues to expand so rapidly. This is it. This is the future. We are living in it every step of the way. We're seeing the world change into the very science fiction we used to read about. It's cool, but with all these technological upgrades, we start to lose a sense of beauty in the simplicity of how things were. We lose a sense of romance. 

Thanks to Instagram, a lot of people have been carefully trying to curate their feeds; taking photographs in a more thoughtful way and actually thinking about their subject matter. That's honestly pretty impressive. This one app kinda changed the photography game forever. The masses are starting to understand the beauty of photography and that it's not just about pointing your camera at something and taking a picture. You can legit create art. You can create personality. You can spark a conversation. That's the power of photography. Now, with that said, it's funny because people are also starting to see the beauty of photography in a more old school sense. Film is getting popular again. This is evident thanks to the popularity of VSCO CAM. If you don't know about this app, it's basically a photo-editing app that lets you put a filter on your images. So what makes it so different and popular? Well, VSCO caters to 'vintage' filters, giving your digital photographs that old school film look. VSCO filters play off of some of the most popular films back in the day, giving off a color replication that you just can't quite recreate with just any other app. It gives back a sense of nostalgia in an age where digital is everything. 


But VSCO wasn't exactly the first in the game to bring back this old school love for film. We've been seeing it for quite some time, with the popularity of INSTAX cameras. Fujifilm is one of the pioneers of film photography, being known for producing some of the best colors in photographic film. They brought back the Polaroid hype that we knew from the 90's and repackaged it in a way that would be targeted to younger people. It was quite genius, actually. The Instax Mini cameras were a hit among youth, thanks to Instagrammers showing off their super cute selfies with this new instant film. It was "new" to the younger generation, so it was interesting and different. But to the older generation (myself included), it brought back a sense of nostalgia. I remember I had an i-zone camera and literally thought it was the coolest thing ever.



To be honest, my INSTAX is what brought on this itch to get into film.
It reminded me just how beautiful film really is. My mom has all these old photographs in binders from the 70's, 80's, and 90's, and it made me really miss seeing photos in tangible form. Everything is digital now, but digital isn't that special if you think about it. We delete photos all the time when we think it's not good enough. Film photography wasn't about what photos were or weren't "good enough". It captured a moment. And when developed, it captured that moment forever. 


Going to assume this was shot with Fuji film.
This is a photo of my mom and dad, from the late 70's. It's kind of terrible quality because I took it about five years ago, on my old Sidekick phone (lol). My old man hasn't been in our lives for the last 15 years, but this photograph was just so raw. It's so real. It captured a moment so perfectly. This was two people who were in love and who were enjoying their time together. Film is romantic. There is a certain aura about an old film photograph that just can't quite be replaced by digital. It never will be the same, even if this photograph was recreated on a digital format. It just wouldn't feel right. And I just thought to myself, 'so why try to replicate it, when I can bring it back.......'

So I started this journey recently. I just felt like, digital isn't enough. There's no soul in digital photography. Don't get me wrong, digital photography produces some AMAZING imagery, and there's so much more you can do with digital than you can with analog, but it's just different. It gives a different feel, entirely. Film replicators like VSCO and Mastin Labs, try their best to replicate that film look, but at the end of the day, it's still digital. The magic isn't quite the same. But there are some pros and cons to shooting film, and I'm finding that out very quickly. 



Pros of shooting film: You get the authentic look of film's color reproduction and quality. You can develop film and keep negatives, so that you're pretty much able to preserve that photograph in a tangible form. You can shoot manually, without batteries. Most cameras from this era use mechanical shutters, meaning you can take a photograph on the camera without needing batteries. In fact, if the camera does require batteries, it's mostly just for the electronic light meters that give better and more accurate exposures. Everything else is manual, including the lens. Film cameras are often found in thrift stores and flea markets for practically nothing. It's way cheaper than a digital camera.

Cons of shooting film: Everything is manual. It's a pro and a con, in some ways. If you're not used to shooting manual, then it's going to feel like way more work than you're used to. All the lenses are manually focused, so you won't just be able to walk around and point and shoot. You have to buy actual film. Purchasing film isn't difficult or anything, but it does get expensive over time, whereas if you just shoot digital, you'll have infinite amount of photos you can shoot, as long as your memory card allows. You also have to go and get the photos developed, after you're done shooting. And considering that film labs aren't as popular as they used to be, finding a local one, might be a drive for some. 


I also want to be honest about something. I really, really, really wanted the Sony A7, which is a full-frame camera (35mm equivalent) in a compact package. It was like, what, $1500? No big deal, right? Yeah. But no really....I was crying because I knew I wouldn't be able to afford it, not to mention I didn't even want the kit lens. But with the lens I wanted, it would've been the price of a used car. Honestly, that's a bit ridiculous for my budget. One of the things I often get asked about camera stuff is PRICING. If it seems like photography is an expensive ass hobby, it's because it is. But that doesn't mean you can't get into it. See, that's another thing that appealed to me about these analog cameras. They are 35mm cameras and are compact. I mean, yeah, you have to buy the film, but the cameras themselves are quite cheap, and you can take some spectacular quality photos with them. You have to put in a little more work of course, but that just that just makes your photograph mean something more. Also, another somewhat "pro" of film photograph, is that because you have to buy rolls of film each time, you become more thoughtful of what you're shooting. It makes each and every photograph count.

That's just the short overview of the pros and cons. Of course, there's a lot more to it than that, but I'm just learning all of this stuff myself. I wanted to introduce it on my blog because if ya'll know me, I love sharing my photographic adventures with the world. So whether you're interested in shooting film yourself, or can just appreciate the aesthetics of a vintage shooter, join me on my next photo quest, which will be periodically updated on this blog: ANALOG DIARIES. 


Thanks for reading. Until next time folks~



PS, in case you missed it. Yes, my blog named did change (again...). Read my post to learn all about the new name.