Any reason to shoot film nowadays?

Started Apr 12, 2013 | Discussions thread
(unknown member) Contributing Member • Posts: 650
Still Searching for Signal . . .

You wrote a strange response to Mira, Joseph Wisniewski.   I suppose you don't see that it's a pot-kettle-black situation, but, as a third-party reader, there it is.

First, there's this--the section I've bolded in Mira's text below:

Joseph S Wisniewski wrote:

MiraShootsNikon blew hard and talked smack:

The biggest reason I shoot film is that I like the look and clients like the look.  That should be it, right?  Why shoot film?  Because you like the results.  What other reason could one possibly need to "justify" or recommend any photographic technique?

I mean, does changing "wrote" to "blew hard and talked smack" open your perspective into the persuasive voice it could or ought to be?  Because it looks to me like "blowing hard" and "talking smack" from you.

Because they enjoy the process?

I do some very exotic processes, including platinum, carbon, gum, and cyanotype over platinum. I also have an inkjet process involving 7 dilutiuons of carbon black or 7 dilutions of one particular color (with passes through up to four different printers to match a gum print) that can fool even an experienced alternative process printer, so the results can be the same.

Congratulations?  Honestly, it'd be more interesting to see the results of these exotic processes than to read about them.  Because the way you're bringing them up, here, reads (at least to me) like you're fishing for an insult that wasn't offered.

The question, "should I shoot film?" is really shorthand for "what does--or what can--film photography look like?"  Instead of listening to a bunch of blowhards talk smack about what it can't do, why not shoot a roll and find out for yourself what it can?

Amazingly how quickly you joined the "blowhards talk smack" group.

Really?  Her tone's aggressive, sure, but "try it for yourself" doesn't ultimately seem like such an insulting, snobish, or judgmental suggestion to me.   Maybe just the opposite?

And anyway, there are other reasons.  I prefer the workflow, which, for me, involves more time shooting and producing with clients and oh-so-much less time cooling my heels at my computer.

I've found that shooting time vs. processing time is purely individual taste. I know film shooters who have an Ansel Adams style workflow, 40 hours of darkroom for every shooting hour, pages of notes on how to print a particular image (dodge this, burn that, filter this) and digital shooters who run almost a shoot and print workflow.

I agree completely.  However, some people in this thread have argued for the "40 hours of darkroom for every shooting hour" process as *every* film workflow, against which digital convenience might be compared.  That suggestion does disservice to both film *and* digital production workflows, right?

I think you read Mira wrong, here.  I don't think she's suggesting that *her* workflow is any more emblematic than Ansel Adams's.  When I read it, I thought she was just pointing out another possibility.  Many people who haven't worked with film lately might not be aware of the great mail-develop-scan services many labs now offer, which really are both super convenient and produce high quality results.

I love working with my lab: it's a big plus, to my mind, that the pro film workflow these days can involve a team of such talented, professional people.

Theses days? You've just described something that hasn't changed much in half a century.

Except that she has, in the sense that twenty years ago labs weren't on-line or so easily accessible the way they are now.

I live in San Francisco, but my favorite lab is in San Diego.  So my workflow often amounts to mail films with color / develop preferences noted > Lab receives film, texts or Google chats to discuss preferences > Lab develops, scans, color corrects and FTPs digital results > I download and approve results or text / chat dialogue to techs if I see something I want different.   I shoot, and I have my Lightroom catalogue full of 16 or 24 Mpx scans a week later.

Certainly that coudln't have happened fifty years ago, or even fifteen years ago.   Which is pretty exciting!

Anyway, that's how I read her comment: that a compelling reason to try film, these days, is that no matter where you live, if you've got a net connection and mail, you can work with experts who can really help you.

So, again--at least as this third party reader sees it--your response reads like you're looking for insult or shortsightedness where there hasn't really been any.

Which gets me to another really important reason to shoot film: the community's way, way better.

Really? You're trying to represent it here, and you seem snobbish and judgmental. You called someone else in this thread "antisocial". You are what you criticize others for being.

Well, pot, kettle.  Now you're in the noise, too.

Pro togs who shoot film really know what they're doing.  But digital?

The pros still really know what they're doing. The wanabees are the same people who thought they were going to go become high end fashion or wedding shooters in a single weekend with a Rebel, or a K1000. Nothing has changed, at all.

I disagree--or at least, in my experience, digital really has changed the art.  For the better, in the sense that lowering the barrier to entry has really opened the creative envelope.   So many people creating such wonderful, exciting, interesting work, many of whom might never have even picked up a camera in the film days.  But at the same time, I think there's more "noise," and I think the proportion of "noise" really is greater.  It's hard to push that perception beyond anecdote, though--for me and for you.

Man, these days everyone is a digital "photographer."

That's a short memory you have. You must have missed the days of the 4x5 product shooters looking down on anyone who tried to do it with medium format. The Hasselblad snobs. Rangefinder vs. SLR wars. Pros dissing anyone with 35mm.

It sounds good rhetorically, Joseph, but I can't confirm its truth.  I lived through those days, too, and I do remember the format "wars," but mostly I recall it as a marketing exercise by the equipment manufacturers, not as a feature of the photographic community at large.  By that I mean that the equipment manufacturers seemed excited to stoke various kinds of insecurities, but that photographers themselves were skeptical.  Especially by the late 70s and 80s, when some really superlative 35mm work started hitting the magazine shelves.  After "Afghan Girl" and "Rainbow over Potala Palace" it was (and still is) hard to diss 35mm shooters seriously.

If you're interested in being a part of a vital artistic community

Then be vital and artistic, in any medium you wish, and associate with other vital and artistic people.

Okay, but how to find them?   Is it here?  I don't say it or think it to diss the wonderful digital photographers out there, but I'm skeptical that, as a community, they concentrate skill and knowledge the way current or past film shooters do.   As the film user base shrinks (or stalls), the talent pool within it necessarily concentrates.   In many ways, skill with film photography is a quick reference to artistic credibility.  (That statement isn't synonymous with "digital photographers lack artistic credibility," by the way, which is not at all what I'm saying.)   However, if you're getting great results with film, then you do really, really know what you're doing.

and you want to learn some amazing things about how to produce gorgeous photography, shooting some film yourself and befriending people who shoot film is (ironically!) one of the best ways to filter the signal from the noise, so to speak.

Indeed. You're simply confused about the fact that you are the living embodiment of the noise.

Which circles us back to black pots and kettles.   I like to read what both you and Mira write, so this scrappy exchange?  Not a banner day for anyone.


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