It’s a good time to be a film photographer. A few weeks ago, Kodak announced they’re bringing Ektachrome back from the grave and are looking into doing the same with Kodachrome. Then we have a brand new black & white ISO 400 film from Bergger, which uses both silver bromide and iodide for extra dynamic range and is available in lots of different formats.
I like film photography, and still keep a handful of film cameras on the go. This isn’t because I think film is better quality than digital (it isn’t) and not because I’m better with film than digital (I’m not). It’s because I like the process of film photography at least as much as I like the results.
There is something about producing a picture with a completely manual film camera that is very satisfying – it’s all down to chemistry and mechanics. If you’ve every wound on a Leica or fired the shutter of a Hasselblad then you’ll know what I’m talking about. And it’s not just the in-camera stuff either – holding up a finished print made in the darkroom by traditional methods – that’s magical.
For me, film photography also represents a way to separate what I do at work from the photography I like to shoot for personal work. I don’t like using film for commissions as its unpredictable nature makes me far too nervous that I’ve got what my client actually wants. But when it’s my own work, I embrace this slightly erratic quality: I love seeing what the finished picture is like, compared with how the scene looked in my mind.
The resurgence in the popularity film photography is welcome news, because it stops me worrying that that day when you’ll no longer be able buy film. I’m sure that day will come eventually, but I’d rather it was as far into the future as possible.