In one of my recent blogs I talked about how going on a photo walk is a great way to help you get out of a creative rut, you can read that blog here. I discussed how you have to slow down and search your surroundings in a new way and how eventually this can lead to inspiration. The key to a photo walk is slowing down, something I don’t think people do enough of these days. This is why I wanted to share my feelings on shooting film, because I believe it is a great way to get you to slow down and look at the world in a new way. As I have mentioned in previous blogs as well, I am not just talking to photographers here. I am speaking to anyone that feels life is going by too fast, who feels that they are always in a rush to get things down, to anyone who feels they need to slow down and just observe and enjoy the world around them.
So how can shooting film help you do this? Why should you put down your digital camera, pocket your smartphone, and pick up your old film camera? It’s simple, shooting film forces you to slow down because you are limited to just a few number of shots per role. With digital photography you can take as many photos as you wish, after you take it you can view it instantly and if you don’t like it you can delete it and try it again. While this is a great tool we sometimes take it for granted and go into what I like to call “machine gun mode”, meaning we fire off as many shots as we can of a given subject and just hope that we got a good one. I have been guilty of doing this myself from time to time. That is why I love shooting film, when you only have 24-36 shots on a role you are going to be a lot more careful in picking your shots. You are going to look at your subjects more closely, you are going to pay attention to the composition in greater detail. You are going to slow down and really look around at a scene before you push that shutter button. You will want everything to be perfect before you actually take the photo. There is no delete button on a film camera, you want to get it as good as you can the first time so you do not need to waste another frame reshooting it. This will also cause you to become kind of picky about what you are shooting, you are not going to want a waste a frame on something you think looks “kinda cool” you are going to want to search something you think is truly worthy of taking a photo of and you are going to have to dig a lot further to find it. You sure as heck don’t want to waste a photo on something like selfie.
Besides slowing down, shooting film also forces you to use another tool that I don’t feel people use enough, visualization. There is no LCD screen on the back of a film camera, you are not going to know how your photo actually turns out until you get it developed. This forces you to visualize the photograph in your head before you take it. You see it in your mind as you are composing it and if it looks good you’ll take it, if not, you will save that frame for another shot. Visualizing is an immensely powerful tool for any creative individual, (and as I have mentioned before I feel we are all creative) and needs to be practiced regularly in order to get better at it. Shooting film helps us do that.
So here is my challenge to you, commit to shooting one role of film in a week. Dig out your old film camera and get yourself a roll of film, these can still be purchased at any drug store. If you don’t have a camera you can buy one for literally just a few dollars at any Goodwill store or even Ebay, the old point and shoot ones are perfect. Take the camera everywhere you go and see how shooting with the knowledge that you have a limited number of shots causes you to slow down and look t things in a different way.
Let me know what your experience is like.
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