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Film and Digital Photography, pt. 1

I‘m sorry to be starting this out with such a cliche topic haha. But especially recently, I’ve been thinking about it a LOT because of how each of these has been playing into my photography recently. 


Firstly, I‘m going to say that I did start photography on digital, with an old Canon Rebel T2i And the kit lens. It taught me everything about manual exposure and technically was the camera I photographed my first series on, but it was nothing of note to be perfectly honest, and I left that series in the introductory photography class in which it was created.


I think that pretty much everyone should start photography on digital. Digital photography is an incredibly resourceful medium and the way that it allows users to see their results immediately is super helpful to those first starting out in learning manual photography to learn different metering modes as well as how different lighting affects photos. Digital photography simply put is in my opinion the best way to learn photography.


So that naturally leads into why some choose to turn to film and others just upgrade their digital kits. For, me I just loved the film process. I took a darkroom class and it convinced me that if I had the means, I would shoot and print everything in the analog mediums. However, given my current living space and budget, that’s just not realistic. But I still photographed on film because I loved the cameras, and black and white film has a character that I’ve only recently been able to approximate digitally (and even then it’s just not the same). I think that film attracts so many people because it has a tangible nature that digital photography just doesn’t have. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing! It‘s just a difference between the two. And I could go on about how film has certain color, tonality, contrast, and/or character that separates it from digital. It does. But I think that this discussion really should go above that. It isn’t just about a spec sheet or pro/con list where you compare the characteristics of each medium. I think that more than anything, film photography was a learning experience. It taught me a completely different way to approach photography.


Like I previously mentioned, I loved shooting film partially because I loved the cameras. If there’s one undeniable argument for film photography, I think that the camera design is it (from the perspective of an only stills photographer). They just feel great in the hands and their operation is so minimalistic. At least with the ones I’ve used, there are no features other than the ones you need or would realistically use for stills. Of course, you also lose autofocus, but that also opens up the world of zone focusing and manual focus that I personally prefer to autofocus. And that alone taught me so much about what I want in a camera. Don’t get me wrong, digital cameras still make great images, but their design up until very recently has been so purely utilitarian that I personally consider it boring, even though that kind of design undeniably has a place in the world of photography.

Honestly, that is one of the main things I learned from film photography. That sounds so dumb, I’m sure. Of course there’s the whole feeling behind images, and how it just wouldn’t be the same with digital, even though I realistically could have taken the same compositions on a digital camera.


And this seems like an alright place to stop so as to continue this idea in another post, just for the sake of article length. In the next part, I’ll talk about what exactly I’ve done with film and where I’m now at with film/digital in my own creative process. Stay tuned!


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