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Why I Shoot Film | For the Look of It

I started my crash course into analog photography on a whim and I was quickly attracted to it for a variety of reasons. In fact, I’m primarily shooting on film and occasionally leave my clunky DSLR at home on the shelf. I want to share a few of the reasons why my digital photography is often an afterthought, and how embracing analog photography has been a great learning opportunity for me and artists looking to expand on their creativity.

 A stash of various film types when on vacation in Montana. | October 2015

A stash of various film types when on vacation in Montana. | October 2015

The first reason I love shooting on film is simply the look of it. 

It’s funny to think that the magical substance sprayed-on that film roll, in the dark, is what goes to work when a photograph is brought to life. It’s from that brilliant reaction between light and silver that gives each emulsion its own particular characteristics and tendencies, which you can use in your favor to create beautiful images.

 Changing rolls at Tally Lake, MT; October 2015 | Photo by Tashia Walters (www.thecurliestgirl.com)

Changing rolls at Tally Lake, MT; October 2015 | Photo by Tashia Walters (www.thecurliestgirl.com)

Some films will give a rough or fine grain, some will enhance color and saturation while others can selectively mute segments of the color spectrum. Even with many film lines being discontinued, there is still a wide variety of different films available, both fresh and expired, that can give your images a little something that you can’t quite emulate easily with digital.

Think of each film type as having its own Instagram filter, influencing the look and feel of your final image. Take for instance, Fuji Velvia 50. When I load a fresh roll of Velvia, I know that I am going to be looking for very colorful subjects since its tendency to push saturation to nearly-ridiculous levels. Be careful in your experimentation though; Velvia is not an ideal choice for portraits due to its weak ability to render proper skin tones. For that, maybe you would want to go with something like Fuji Provia 100F that is slightly-dull, in comparison, but rendering much better skin tones making it better for stylish portraits. One of my favorites at the moment is Kodak Ektar 100. It’s classified as being the world’s finest-grain color negative film but that isn’t why I like it so much; there is something about the color and the way it is reproduced so richly, it just brings a smile to my face every time.

 Kodak Ektar 100 | Pentax K1000 

Kodak Ektar 100 | Pentax K1000 

 Fujichrome Velvia 50 | Pentax K1000

Fujichrome Velvia 50 | Pentax K1000

 Ilford Delta 100 Pushed 1 Stop | Bronica ETRSi

Ilford Delta 100 Pushed 1 Stop | Bronica ETRSi

 Expired Kodak GOLD 200 | Pentax K1000

Expired Kodak GOLD 200 | Pentax K1000

By creatively selecting the film, you have influence over the image much like you would behind a computer screen, but having the preset built right-in for the next 12,15, 24, or 36 exposures.

If you have a few favorites that you like to shoot, let me know in the comments. If you have yet to develop your taste and preferences, get out there and experiment until you find something you like. 

Dustin Veitch2 Comments