I had been scrolling through Pinterest several months ago when I happened across an article, 10 Reasons You Must Shoot Film. As a film shooter, I was curious and clicked the link. It was the usual clickbait filled with all the typical items you’d find in such an article. Things about how it helps you improve, makes you slow down, and all that jazz. Of course, I began to see more articles of the same type in my feed after that, so I decided to write a rebuttal. Before I get into that, I am an avid film photographer as you can easily tell by scrolling through my Instagram Feed, Flickr Site, and even this blog. I actively promote film photography. I review film cameras, film stocks, and host a podcast all about film. And while I have in the past romanticised film, I can honestly say one thing; no one needs to shoot film.
And if you did click on this article based on the title, I do apologise for having it drift into the realms of clickbait, so if you’re looking for the one reason to shoot film, here it is in the second paragraph. The one reason you should shoot film is that you want to. There, it is that simple. No one must or needs to shoot film as if their very life or photographic career depended on the action. There are folks out there who will die never having shot a single roll and are perfectly content to continue using their phones or tablets for their photography. And there are plenty of parents who grew up having to wait for the family pictures to come back from the lab who can now share and show their images near instantly. Not to mention the professional photographers who learned on film and are perfectly content if they never saw a single roll of the stuff again. And as someone who shoots both film and digital, I get where they’re coming from; film can be downright frustrating at times. Even digital can be frustrating. Let’s not mince words, Photography is frustrating.
Film certainly keeps you humble; you can mess up a camera setting, forget to remove a lens cap, darkslide, keep the shutter open. Misload film, forget which chemical is which, put the film back in a developer instead of fix. Oh, and the list can go on and on. And there’s a good chance I’ve done each and each item on said list. When you get it right, there’s a special kind of magic. From pulling out that first roll of home developed black & white or colour film. Seeing that big beautiful sheet of slide film, you shot on a large format camera or seeing your image come up from a black sheet of paper in the darkroom. But don’t think any of it will improve your photography or your mindset. That’s all on you.
That’s it; there are no rules that say as a photographer that you must shoot film. But I certainly find it rewarding and suggest that it’s worth giving film a try, but only if you want to.