Why You Should Shoot Film

by | May 11, 2022

Recently I received an email from Kodak, yes Kodak the iconic Rochester, NY company who pioneered many of the products and techniques used in the heyday of analog photography. Guess what, they were trying to sell me a point and shoot film camera!

Crazy as it may seem it got me thinking.

I go way back in film beginning with my early days of film school at L’ecole des beaux arts in Toulouse, France. It’s been quite a while since I’ve shot my Mamiya RZ 67 Pro II 120 format or Toyo 4×5 camera or even my Nikon F or F5 35mm cameras. I’ve long since abandoned the professional analog medium.

But there was always something missing in the digital world of photography. Kind of like receiving birthday or christmas gifts that were not wrapped.

This might be a bizarre concept for many of you, but no more than an audiophile purchasing new music on vinyl. You see, upon some reflection, shooting film will make you a better photographer. I guarantee it!

There are so many reasons to add film to your mix but here are my top three:

1. You will shoot with more intent.

You’ll slow down and focus on composition, moments and interaction rather than the constant pull of looking at the image after each shot. You see, it is about the moment and not so much about the image itself. You’ll plan better, use your photo skills more and think about your shot more. All will make you a better rounded photographer no matter what you shoot with be it a digital camera, film or your phone.

2. Make better use of time.

In lieu of sharing your photography time on capture, selections and then all the processing options, the bulk of your photo time will be on the Capture portion which is where all the magic happens.

3. It’s different.

There is something amazingly tactile about an actual image. Printed. On paper. Go into a gallery and look at fine art. Also if you are getting bored with photography or your subjects, shooting in film is a sure cure!

I’m planning on offering a few photo workshops that focus on film photography with respect to process that can be incorporated into your digital photography as well to give you more powerful images with more predictable results. Stay tuned.

Where to get equipment, film and processing:

You can purchase a variety of new and used equipment at most any price point with a quick Google search. Go to eBay and search film cameras for some great entertainment and pick one you like for your budget. I’d recommend a Konica Hexar like I once had.

If you don’t have one in your attic I recommend a simple 35mm point and shoot style film cameras like the Kodak Ultra F9 Reusable 35mm Camera ($42) to get you started for two reasons:

1. Film cameras are inexpensive and timeless
2. The resulting images will decidedly different than what you are shooting now (ie. it will actually look like film)
3. You’ll have a great time and the anticipation to get your film back is both nostalgic and really fun.

Start with color or black and white negative film for prints. A variety of labs will process the film and even scan the film digitally as well.

I’ll bet you didn’t know that locally both Wallgreens and CVS still process film along with a host of national sources among:

The Dark Room: https://thedarkroom.com
Boots Photo: https://www.bootsphoto.com/photo-printing/in-store-film-development.html
The Icon: https://www.iconla.com/film-services/#film-processing

You will have a blast and learn a lot about your photography. Create something today and always remember that less is more regarding your compositions.

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About the author Perry Johnson
Perry Johnson is classically trained commercial photographer and graphic designer with over 30 years experience. He initially crafted his skills at the École Supérieure Des Beaux-Arts de Toulouse in France. Over the years Perry has taught countless photography workshops and courses to individuals, groups and business including Target Corp., Lockheed Martin, Johnson Outdoors, Enza-Zaden and more. Perry’s commercial photography clients include Darden Restaurants, Marriott Corp, Visit Florida, Food & Wine Magazine, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau to name just a few. Perry owns a marketing communications firm named Imagica (imagica.us). This boutique agency offers a fully integrated menu of marketing services for business that includes photography, website design, graphic design, advertising, strategy, social media, public relations and more. It’s this current and diverse experience from the “outside in” that gives a unique perspective on the power of photography to inspire, motivate and tell a story.