This Is Not a Debate: I Shoot Film

by Brian Patrick

 While this may seem like a random babbling, please bear with me, as the first sentence is always the most difficult. As you sit here reading this, please take note in realizing these two sentences have had about 9 different revisions and it has taken me about ten minutes to write up to this point. But... I have started and I have something to show.  

Photos by Brian Patrick.

You see, as I type this, this the equivalent of digital photography. I can type what comes to my mind, read it, review it, delete it, and make changes as I type to get the ideal end product that I'm looking for. If I were writing this with a quill pen and paper, it would take considerably longer and require more planning to get the perfect end product. That quill pen and paper is the equivalent of film photography. 

Do I write with quill pens? No. In fact, I wouldn’t even know where to buy one should I choose to. But I do shoot with film, and I love it. I have never participated in the film vs digital debate, for I think it is a moot point. To me, both work and both are important.  

For example, what will come of this article in 10 months? What about 20 years? Will my grandchildren read this article? I realize that is a string of rhetorical questions; however, what about the binder of negatives that I have? I love digital photography but the thought of mastering a process using a decades old manual film camera to create a photo is simply awesome. While the possibilities and capabilities of current digital systems may have been unimaginable 10 years ago, and unfathomable 30 years ago, the capabilities, possibilities, and limitations of film photography remain equally as exciting today as the day I first caught a whiff of developer.

I have used numerous different DSLRs from Sigma to Canon and now use a Fuji mirrorless system, but I love tearing open a fresh roll film and loading 120 into my Hasselblad. Also, the excitement while removing a freshly developed roll of negatives from the developing spool simply cannot be duplicated in the digital realm. Those two things combined with the thought that my grandchildren, or their grandchildren may some day stumble across negatives I shot and developed is exciting to me. 

That brings me to the next point: Vivian Maier. If you’re interested in film photography, and I believe you are, I highly recommend reading (at least a bit) about the Vivian Maier story; it is awe-inspiring.

What would a photography article be if we didn’t talk about gear... Another amazing point of film photography is that the challenges come from the film, not necessarily the camera. I am currently shooting with a Hasselblad, and Nikon FM2 (which I received as part of a trade for a Leica M3) but have recently bought a 35mm point and shoot Olympus Stylus Epic. Each is different in their own sense, and I love using them all.  

Furthermore, I enjoy teaching the kids about film and it is priceless to see the excitement on their faces when I pull a roll of negatives out of the developing tank. I enjoy shooting with film for the cliche reasons, it forces me to slow down and be more thoughtful about each shot. I also enjoy it because it's different than the status quo and it creates a physical product. Plus, it’s a pretty good conversation piece too.  

 And with that, all I have left to say is... Happy shooting!  

You can see more of Brian's work at Brian Patrick Photography.

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