It Brings Out the Kid in Me

This Viewpoint was contributed by Johnny Brown.

I guess this started some time ago at the age of 9 when my uncle showed me his darkroom and told me this is where the magic happens. Being the curious kid that I was, I asked to see some magic tricks. 

When my uncle dropped a piece of paper into a big plastic tray, and a picture magically appeared... I was hooked... Still some 45 years later, I get excited when shooting film. From the selection of stock that I choose, to the developing process that I do at home, to the final step of printing my own work: that love has never gone away.

"Chess Game" - Contax RTS with a 50mm f1.4 lens - T-Max 400 - Photos by Johnny Brown.

Asking someone why they still shoot film when digital is so prevalent today, you're likely  to get an answer that sounds crazy if digital was your first experience. This is not about which is better or how many megapixels you have. This is about a passion, and a love affair that’s hard to explain in just a few words.
I do shoot digital for work, when I’m working for a business or shooting commercials. I am  up to date on the latest and greatest. And for those personal shots when I need an instant picture or video to upload somewhere, my iPhone and a Anamorphic Lens from Moondog Labs is always with me. But film... I consider that to be in my blood.

"Santa in Downtown LA" - Rolleiflex 3.5F , Carl Zeiss Planar- T-Max 400

Shooting film allows me to concentrate a little more than I would with digital because of the number of shots I have per roll. I'm aware that there's a cost involved with not paying attention and just firing away. So this has always allowed me to take a deep breath and think about what’s important in the shot and what is not. 

So for me, shooting film is about the magic that I get from it, and the feeling that I will always be 9 years old.

Photos and essay by Johnny Brown. You can follow him on Instagram at

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