I’ve been filming for almost four years now and I can safely say: analog photography really changed my life and my view on image creation. For the first time, I seriously ran into analog photography while studying at college, but then I couldn’t imagine that I would be filming in 2018 either. Our old teacher brought us to the development room, and I clearly remember how I told myself that I would never take a step forward in my life in the development room. The smell was disgusting, and the idea itself was to fill the film into the camera for a few frames, this whole cumbersome development process, it all seemed completely outdated in 2007. Then the figure
was already the standard for most photographers. I was no exception.
This photo is a great example of how everything was planned in advance. Especially for this photo shoot I bought and cut out some paper backgrounds.
My second meeting with the film took place in 2012. My colleague had an old Canon AE-1, on which he shot personal projects. I remember, then I told him how stupid and wrong to use outdated technology, which will finally die in a couple of years. But in 2014, I discovered that the medium format was perfect for my photography style. However, at that time, a digital medium format camera cost about the same as my recently purchased car. Then I decided to buy my first analog medium-format camera - Mamiya 645 PRO TL. Having looked at my first (bad, by the way) photos, I fell in love with the film and gradually completely switched to it. With this article I want to answer everyone who asked me why I am still doing analog photography. This is not a comparison - the “number" against the film. The main idea: to show that film cameras are a very real tool for some, specific, goals and tasks, as well as digital ones for others.
№1 Or a plan, or gone
Starting to shoot in medium format, I realized that it’s impossible to spoil frames here, as on a “number”. I live in Brazil, and professional films, color and black and white, are very expensive here. And I did not plan to go bankrupt by flipping the shutter. So I had to understand - I need to plan staff. Much more serious than with digital shooting.
When shooting on film, the quality of the images increases significantly. You think twice or thrice before you snap the shutter. And quickly you learn to determine what material will give excellent photos.
I can’t count how many times I put the model, looked into the viewfinder and after a few minutes spent trying to find the right composition, I said: “No, forget about it, let's try the next photo.” Even for those who take the “digital”, analog photography is a great way to practice the mental visualization of the picture, to focus only on what really works for the intended purpose.
You become more attentive to what is happening around, because you click the shutter less; and more time is left for what is really important: to communicate with people, to interact with the model and the environment, to study places, and so on. You understand that photography is not what happens in the camera, but what happens outside of it. And since what happens outside the camera creates a good photo, you pay more attention to this.
№2 Shooting on film - a look into the future
If you are not at all familiar with analog photography, then I’ll tell you a secret: analog cameras do not have a screen where you can view finished pictures. Yes it's true. And this is true for all film cameras. And this makes us abandon the bad habit of constantly looking at the shots made. The only screen you will look at is the viewfinder and the picture in it. The picture you are looking for, not the ones you already found.
Digital cameras make us spend a lot of time checking photos, not to mention how much this creates tension between the photographer and the photographed. After all, with a digital camera, people can see how they turned out in the picture (and they have certain expectations in this regard).
As I said above, the most important thing happens outside the camera, and the lack of a display on which you can see the picture just taken makes you focus on the future; on what you will do next. That is, an analog camera is a bridge that leads you into the future, and not into the past, at least for the duration of the shooting. And with a digital camera, people plunge into the screen, flipping through pictures, and now they have already lost contact with the world and with what is happening around.
№3 Variety of equipment
Although the situation is changing now, in general, in the digital world, you have no such choice as in the analog one. And the “figure” can sometimes be very, very expensive (yes, I'm talking about the medium format and large format backdrops).
In the analog world, you have options available in any format you need, from cameras that use 110-type film to large-format ones with a frame size of 8 × 10. And in each format there will also be a wide selection. Do you like 35mm full-frame digital cameras? The Canon EOS 30 / Elan 7 can be found on eBay for just $ 149, and use all your Canon EF lenses with it. Before, my favorite Olympus OM2 can be purchased at about the same price, complete with a lens.
Even medium-format cameras, which 99% of digital photographers cannot afford, can be bought on the Internet at a reasonable price. My Pentax 67II cost me about $ 400, paired with a 135mm f / 4 lens. Not to mention the fact that you usually cannot get a “real” medium format in the “figure”, since most of the matrices are “cropped”, 44 × 33 mm. A “real” medium-format image can be achieved only by using 6 × 6 or 6 × 7 (60 × 70 mm) matrices.
But there is no large format as such in the digital world, because backdrops are exceptionally expensive and are used in very limited areas. Most large format photographers still work with film.
№4 Working with film teaches you how to evaluate light
All this is done: they pretend to be light on the eye, click the shutter, check how it happened and make an exposure correction for the next frame. Due to the fact that you have to access the screen, time and communication with the scene are lost. Sometimes they don’t even pay attention to the exposure - if everything is not too bad, you can restore the details in dark / bright places during post-processing. But in analog photography, there is no escape from careful light metering.
I often hear people say: “Oh, the beauty of analog photography is that you don’t know what happened until you show the film.” This is a common opinion, but completely wrong. To film means knowing every aspect of what you are doing. At least, trying to know - and this makes you study more and more. You click the shutter and know exactly what will result. See the picture and take it. Of course, you cannot show it to others before you have developed and scanned the film, but you clearly know what you did.
In my opinion, the best strategy for beginner photographers is to master the basics of photography on a “number”, where it is possible to quickly check the result, and then practice, train the acquired knowledge already on film. This will make it harder to solidify everything related to the assessment of light and camera settings.
№5 Film teaches productivity
When shooting on film, you have to learn to catch the right moment at the right time. If you work with moving objects, then you just need to develop a sense of time and space.
In Brazil, the film is very expensive. One reel of type-120 film, for 10 frames, costs $ 20 - a total of $ 2 for each click of the shutter. You can go bankrupt if you do not learn how to quickly do everything right.
No, no one today will refuse digital photography in order to switch completely to film, but I do not call for this. But I hope that I was able to introduce analog cameras as a very real tool for: 1.Access to a number of different formats without excessive financial costs,
2. practices in the basics of photography and metering,
3. communication with the outside world and less immersion in the camera,
4. obtaining results other than digital shooting
My other goal is to draw more attention to analog photography. It will be very unfortunate if she dies, while so many beautiful and important photographs of history were taken precisely on film. The film is still alive. Let it be so in the future.