One of Burgett's first film photographs ever, captured in a cemetery on hand-spooled Tri-X 400, taken with a Canon AE-1 with a 50mm F1.8 lens.
Photo: Gannon Burgett
I started my photography career in the digital world. The first photo I ever won a prize for was taken with a Kodak EasyShare point-and-shoot in the mid-2000s and the first camera I ever picked up with the intent of shooting creative images with was a Canon Rebel xT (350D), given to me as a hand-me-down from a relative.
One Thing: Advice, tips and tricks from the DPReview editors
About this series:
Our team cuts through the noise to share the things that made the biggest impact on our work and what lessons you can bring into your own work.
Read the entire series here.
Everything I knew about photography for the first year or two of shooting was done with pixels and software, piles of zeroes and ones. It wasn’t until I took a film photography class in high school that I truly began to grasp the magic of photography and expand both my historical and technical knowledge of the art and science known as photography.
The class was taught by a Dvorak-using hippy named Mr. Woodard. At the time, I didn’t much enjoy the prescriptive nature of the class or the slow, methodical process of shooting, developing and printing film photographs. After all, I was accustomed to the instant satisfaction of seeing my images appear on the rear display of my Rebel xT and being able to cull through dozens of shots in an instant on my computer.
In fact, I distinctly remember telling Mr. Woodard at the mid-point of the class that I would never again shoot film after the semester ended. But I was wrong. So very wrong.
As the semester went on, I started shooting more and more with the Nikon FG and Nikkor 50mm F1.4 AI lens I picked up at a local flea market, burning through a dozen or so hand-spooled rolls of Tri-X 400 film, bulk-loaded by Mr. Woodard in his dark, dingy loft-turned-classroom within the high school.
As with so many creative pursuits, I eventually found that the slow, methodical processes required by film were not a limitation, but a positive constraint to work within that forced me to better plan each shot, since we had an allowance of just one 24-exposure roll of film each week.
I would, of course, eventually return to digital photography, but I did so with a better respect for the process and even the desire to shoot digital as I would film, as I've come to genuinely appreciate the way the limits of the film photography workflow make me slow down and see things in a way my brain otherwise tries to skip over with digital photography.
Have you taken a photography course that's changed the way in which you view or approach your work? Let us know in the comments below so we can share fun anecdotes about our teachers, professors and mentors.