Why I use film

Morning Mist

Morning Mist


Ilford XP2 400 6x9

Taken on a Fuji GW690III

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.

British Spring

British Spring


Velvia 100 6x9

Taken on a Fuji GW690III

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.

Birth & Decay

Birth & Decay


Velvia 100 6x9

Taken on a Fuji GW690III

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.

Late Mist

Late Mist


Velvia 100 6x9

Taken on a Fuji GW690III

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.

copyright Kieran Elson 2019