Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My Thoughts on Why I Shoot Film....

Near Three Hills, Alberta, September 2012.

 I am posting a response to a blog post by Oliver Du Tre's blog titled "Why I Shoot Film" Check out his photograph, its very good.

 I have been shooting film since I was 15 years of age, I'm closing in on 40 years of film usage and I still feel that film has value in today's digital world. Some back ground: I have been working at newspapers as a photographer since I was 18 years of age, I started out shooting black and white film in my Nikon F2 camera. Today its all digital and I must say that I love shooting digital for my newspaper work, in November of 2001 my newspaper, The Kelowna Daily Couruier bought the newest of new, Nikon D1H digital cameras, I can still clearly remember walking along Bernard avenue in downtown Kelowna the day our 'kits' arrived and shot anything and everything that moved, I would look at each picture on the camera's tiny little rear screen and say wow!

 I would never want to go back to film for my day to day work assignments at the paper . Digital is a must in photojournalism, I wouldn't want to be with out it.

 Shooting film on my time off is a whole different kettle of fish, for one I have no deadlines to contend with, so it doesn't matter to me that I can see the shot right away, I feel as an artist ( which I humbly realize may not be true ) I want to slow things down.

 Twenty-five years ago I picked up a 4 x 5 view camera, people in the news biz might not have quite understood what I was doing, some thought I was completely nuts, I still could be.

 I totally love making images with my view cameras, mostly 4 x 5 but when I can afford the film my 8 x 10 that too. Over the years I have own medium format cameras, but I have stuck with view cameras, almost all the work you see on my website, my blog and FB page is done with view cameras. I am frequently asked, why film and why a view camera? , some think its bulky, time consuming not easy to use. One of the things that I have found that with shooting film is not so much that it makes me a better photographer but that it clearly makes me look at and photograph my subject(s) in a far different way than using digital, its hard to explain, I am much more selective in terms of how I will photograph my subject when shooting with film.

 Also I love shooting with the view camera and I have not found a digital equivalent, to me there is nothing more beautiful than looking at my composed image even though it is upside down and backwards that I am abut to record with film on a ground glass screen 20 to 80 square inches in size, its really beautiful to look at, its the direct image coming through the lens, a truly 'raw' image.

 These days I work with a hybrid system or a digital scan-workflow, I shoot sheet film and scan the negatives with flatbed scanner. I also hope to do some more connect sheet printing in the wet darkroom from my 8 x 10 negatives one of these days too, I have always been inspired by the work of Edward Weston, including the simplicity of his craft in making his wonderful images, his darkroom consisted of a few trays, printing frame and darkroom lights, he was able to set up almost anywhere. I would say that shooting film may be a little crazy in this digital age, and may seem like the hard way to an end product when the easier route is the one to take, but then so is running a marathon, there are a lot easier ways to cover the 26.2 miles by pounding the ground with your feet. Also I feel that there is a sense of accomplishment in that some film cameras are not easy to use, neither is playing a violin, it takes years to get good at playing such an instrument, but the effort is well worth it, in terms of one's personal satisfaction and knowing that you have worked hard for something.

Postscript: February 8, 2013: For further reading check out these links at Gary Seronik's blog: Film Advanace  also Bruce Barnbaum's essay is worth reading, I really enjoyed it.


Gary said...

Great blog Gary! You neatly summarized many of my own sentiments.

Anonymous said...

That's a beautiful picture, Gary.

Mike J.