Philosophy and Film

As most of you know, I love shooting film still. Just like a hipster DJ who insists on vinyl, I love the analogue vibe of film. Digital is always my “go to” for a tough job, like photographing kids or a wedding (no, I do not shoot weddings, but I like annoying the official wedding photographer with my big lenses…) but when I am shooting for my own enjoyment, I usually reach for one of my film cameras.

Yesterday, the Melbourne Silver Mine, a film group, held their annual Straya Day meet at Abbotsford Convent. I took along my new bit of kit and a bunch of film. I started a bit slow, taking the odd pot shot of people enjoying their day at the farmers’ market, and the grounds. It could have been a bit sunnier, but the weather was pleasant enough.

I ended up taking about 13 rolls of 645 medium format – about 208 shots. The scanner just felt someone walk over it’s grave… A few of my camera peeps were a bit shocked at how much film I had shot, so let me go over my philosophy which drives this behaviour.

Reason One.

I am lucky enough to not have to worry too much about the cost of processing and the film. Not letting the constraints of cost affect my shooting behaviour is something that I appreciate very much – while it lasts! I always drop back to digital if I am financial constrained. I try very hard not to let format dictate my shooting behaviour.

Reason Two.

When I am shooting for my own enjoyment and fulfilment, I tend to reach for a film camera. My digital kit is my “go to” for more technically demanding spots – low light, flash, quick movement, etc. Kids and weddings normally are my digital days. If I am walking around town, you normally see me with an old film camera and a swag of film. So, if I am shooting film or digital, the number of raw shots I come home with is the same.

Reason Three.

I am not a patient photographer, nor detail orientated. This is the key reason why I know I can never transfer my skills into a new career. I am simply not suited to professional photography – this is not to say I can’t create the odd bit of genius, it just means I am not a “Sure Thing” when it comes to taking a shot.

I tend to take a few extras to make sure that I get something usable. I vary the shots a little bit too, just to catch anything that I might have missed in the detail. I tend to make my decisions once I have the scanning done and dusted. A few extra shots gives me the confidence that I haven’t missed the shot I want.

Reason Four.

Momentum. I find that the more I shoot in a particular session, the more I “See” and want to capture. This usually peaks about 2 hours into a decent walk and then drops off pretty quickly! During the time when I am “seeing” a lot, I can churn through quite a few frames. I never really know if they are any good or not until I get the film processed though.

Reason Five.

Along with not being patient, I do not have a great “eye” – I miss detail regularly. I don’t always see the telegraph pole growing out of a subject’s head when I take a shot. Sometimes, the “Gold” shot I think is going to rule the world, turns out to be complete rubbish – I struggle sometimes to be able to completely visualise how a shot will turn out. This happens on digital too – I am not prone to constantly checking the LCD post shot, so I often don’t know what I have until I get home. So more shots = more chance of getting something decent.

Final Thoughts.

Over the years, my hit rate has gotten much better, although I can still have a crap day. I am just more comfortable taking more shots than less…

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