Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The Magic

Still shooting film. That's me and a lot of the people I know. We still shoot film, not exclusively, mind you. Well, most of us anyway shoot both film and digital, but the fact remains, we still shoot film. For me, the reasons why I continue to shoot film are complex to most non-film shooters. It's pretty simple to me, but to others it causes head-scratching and smirking. I guess I can't expect those individuals to understand. Most of these individuals didn't enjoy film photography as I did back when it was the 'only thing going'. Most complain and offer excuses about the things that caused them to make technically poor photos, or they complain about the inconveniences and the overly complex nature of what they refer to as 'analog' photography. What I hear mostly is that digital is better, because it's easier. It's easier to make better photos.

That's what most are saying when they cite the merits of digital photography, and it's hard to argue that digital isn't easier, but argument is what they want. If you've ever engaged in such discussions or found yourself defending the virtues of film, you know exactly what I mean. These types want an admission, particularly (no especially) from a die-hard film shooter. Well, I won't admit that digital is better, but I also won't admit that film is better either. The fact of the matter is, I really don't care. To a certain extent image capture is image capture, and all that truly matters is the final product. I have as many 'final' digital images as I do 'final' film images.

What I enjoy about film, the thing that hooked me some 30 years ago is the magic, the magic of the ritual, the alchemy of the magic of souping your own film, the pleasure of holding a loupe against a strip of negatives or a contact sheet, a simplicity of a stack of slides, the wonderment of seeing a silver print hanging on a wall, seemingly emitting its own light.

So you're 'back into photography' now that digital has made things easier. Honestly, that's great. If you ever come up against a film shooter (don't stereotype them as old, because I know a LOT of "kids" who are bigger luddites than I), don't try to convert them or make them admit that digital is better. We are of the old school of photography, the school that appreciates the magic in the craft. You aren't. You never were, and that is the difference between you and I. You are as happy about that as we are. We can enjoy digital photography, but you can't and never did enjoy 'analog'.