Digital May Be the Heart, but Film is the Soul

This Viewpoint was contributed by Wayne Lorimer.

I’m not a hipster – I’m too old for that. Instead, I’m advanced enough in years to remember with fondness when shooting with film was actually all there was! I suspect this is the case for many who might read this post or follow theAnalogstory.

"Ford Combi" Captured with a Bronica S2 and Kodak 120. Photos by Wayne Lorimer.

Also like many who grew up shooting film, but who have now ‘converted’ to digital, there is a certain nostalgic element associated with going back to film again. The smell, the feel, the quality, and yes – the very tactile nature of film, is compelling. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love digital. In many ways my Olympus OMD Em5 MkII is the best camera I’ve ever owned. Period! And believe me, I’ve owned a lot of cameras. 

But as much as I love digital, there’s always a part of me, as a photographer who grew up on film, who feels that digital is a bit too clean. A bit too clinical. Maybe even a little too sterile? As a photographer, I want to get involved in the process a little more. Get my hands a little dirty. And film allows me to do that. 

I started shooting film again a few years ago, as a way of rekindling my own creative work. I was doing a lot of wedding work at the time, spending long hours behind a computer. My photographic mojo was draining away, and I needed to spark it back to life somehow. Shooting film was the spark I needed.

Shooting film led to home film development - something I use to teach classes on until digital hit - and experimentation with Caffenol (using coffee and other household products to develop film). To this day, there is still nothing quite like pulling a roll of film out of a development tank to see what you’ve got. 

"Jetty" Pentax 67, Fuji Across 100 processed in Caffenol.

To be totally honest, the other huge attraction in going back to film was the incredible gear I could buy for an absolute song! Back when film was king I could only dream of owning a professional medium format kit. But now these can be had relatively inexpensively (although that is gradually changing due to the aforementioned hipsters). Camera’s I lusted after in the 90s are practically being given away in 2016.

For a while, my camera lust and GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) was out of control. But fortunately this was just a phase, and I’ve settled on two very basic kits. One is an old Ricoh K5 Super with a standard lens, and the other is ‘the beast’ – a Pentax 6x7, again with a standard lens.

Digital is still 90 percent of my photography (did I mention how amazing the OMD Em5 MkII is?). But the other 10 percent is incredibly important for my own creative expression. If digital is now the heart of photography, film is definitely still the soul.

You can see more of Wayne’s work at http://nzdigital.blogspot.com and at http://filmisback.blogspot.com. Text and photos by Wayne Lorimer.

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