The Simplicity of Film

Leica M6 film photography

For some reason film photography draws me in and I’ve struggled to put my finger on it for quite some time now.

I’m not a hugely skilled photographer on film or digital and I am definitely a ‘pixel peeper’ when it comes to digital photography so film should have a bit of a warning sign for me when it comes to the texture, the grain and the overall look of a film photo.

However, like a moth to the flame I’m drawn to film. If I peruse sites such as instagram the photographs I like most have a certain look and feel to them and in almost all cases it’s a film photo. Of course over the years I’ve tried (pretty hopelessly) to recreate that look you get with film on digital photographs, but it’s just not the same.

What I have come to realise is that film photography calls for a completely different mindset for me than digital. I love the idea of shooting for a whole year on nothing more than my Leica M6 and black and white film, of course the idea also scares me, thinking of what I could be missing by not shooting digital.

And Then the Penny Dropped

And then the penny dropped. With a digital camera in hand I feel as if I always have to ‘make the image’, even to the point where I’m trying to force myself to get the photograph. From a technical point of view, of course digital is more simple – if you need to change settings to suit the environment you can…. Compromises can force you to get something ‘half reasonable’ on digital that film cannot do.

And therein lies the rub, I find with a film camera in hand if I can’t get the photograph I want to make, I simply don’t take the shot. With digital I’m always ‘trying’ to get the photo even when conditions are against me. With film I find the experience less stressful, if I can’t make the photo with what I have in my hand when I’m shooting film I put the camera away.

Now this maybe counter productive, but for me it kind of sums up my feelings at present with regards to digital v film. Shooting a black and white film limits my choice, shooting on my Leica M6 with a single lens limits my choice. When I’ve developed and scanned my film I have less editing choices. It makes for a less stressful, decision making process and I’m always up for less stress in my life.


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