Why I use film
Before I started photography I would draw every single day of my life, I drew cartoons, insects, trees anything I found interesting. I used any old pencil I could get hold of, the idea that a quality pencil could effect my drawing at age eight was laughable. I didn't care or had the comprehension to consider this, I didn't acquire a decent set of pencils until I was fourteen. Even then it was only because I had found my love for perspective drawing, I would bloat all my school work with pages of detailed perspective drawings and design progress. I later began using CAD software to display my designs, using digital photographs to skin realistic environments and textures. This was an amazing experience to build and create everything on a computer, you can learn incredibly quickly about photography and design using CAD.
I believe this is where I began to create hurdles for myself, having so much creative freedom can be too much. Within 3 weeks I had stopped drawing, all my work was now in digital photography and CAD designs. After I left school I had no design classes, no art classes, I was working as a salesman with no reason to be creative. My photographs showed this, boring, flat, lifeless, just imitations of images I had already seen. I wasted hours and hours on software trying to get a look I liked, but worst of all I spent thousands on camera equipment only to be disappointed with my results. Photography was soon to be to be a thing of the past much like my drawing, it was joyless and frustrating. Between 2013 and 2015 I had nothing to show, two years and not a single worthwhile photograph made.
In 2016 I decided to get back into photography, I kept it very simple this time using only a 5D and 50mm lens. After a couple of months I started to produce images I liked, I had began to watch the light rather than repeatedly take pointless pictures. But after a few months I found myself going back to my old ways, wanting better equipment, more megapixels more lenses, little did I know these play no part in making a great image. But as I was clearing out my room I found some Veliva film I had got years ago from my first job, so I grabbed my fathers old SLR and ran a couple rolls through it.
I was with a friend when I picked up my first developed film, I will never forget our reaction seeing the slides for the first time. We both stood there like zombies staring at the contact sheet, holding them up to the lights and the store window. I had no idea how to use Velvia correctly but every frame came out just right, in hindsight I was lucky with my choice of scenes. The classic trial by fire then followed as I shot more and more Velvia not knowing what I was doing, but occasional a slide would come back exactly as I wanted. It certainly took a lot of experimentation and failure to became comfortable with film, I'm still learning to this day.
I can't quantify why I feel more creative with film photography, but I feel its limitations drive me to think clearer. When I would draw as a child I never expected a master piece from my cheap pencil and scrap paper, but my drawings still spoke about me and what I was thinking. With film I cannot create a technically perfect image, but the challenge of pushing it to its limits is rewarding and promotes problem solving. I'm not saying a realistic image cannot be compelling, far from it, rather film is more honest to my creative vision.
Fast forward to the present, nearly two years have past, I have tried and tested many digital cameras and still find myself going back to film. I still shoot digital for weddings, portraits and wildlife, but even as I'm working on this article I'm in the processes of changing all of that. I feel digital definitely has a place in my work, especially after discovering the classic 1D, but as cameras advance I feel less and less compelled by them. Many believe film is a on the way out, but as long as art lives I believe so will film. After all Photoshop is used for digital art all around the world, but paint, pastels and pencils are still readily available.