Why Film / by Thomas Kercel

I started to write a short piece on my favorite black and white film to use. However, I thought before that, I'd best put a few thoughts down about why a year ago I choose to start using film for photography after a hiatus of 15 years. 

I was encouraged to try film again by a good friend in Qatar, so I fished out my dads old Olympus OM10 to try it again. The first few roles weren't that good and I was a tad disappointed, but I persevered.  The five reasons below are the main reasons I have stuck with film.

Creating Art

The process of developing the film at home makes it special,  it gives me the feeling of producing a piece of art; not just an image.  With film there is a lot of scope for creativity with the film type, processing chemicals, developing processes and even more if you print your own pictures; I'll discuss this further in another post.

careful shots

When the whole process of developing and scanning takes an hour for 12 images on medium format and the same for 36 images on 35mm format; I started to take a lot more care over what I shot and how I composed the shot.  From this my photography started to turn out better with less wasted images and more thoughtful compositions.

equipment variety

You can pick up decent second hand camera equipment off eBay and local markets for very cheap prices, this has meant that I can buy cameras which a few years ago would have been well out of my price bracket, or I can try lots of different cameras.

back to basics

Leading on slightly from the point above, the cameras of yesteryear were very much manual cameras; meaning that they're very back to basics and only some come with the luxury of a light meter, meaning that you have full control over the shot and no fancy technology to distract you from the composition and creativity.

image depth 

Film over the years has had so much development and research that the colour representation in the varying film emulsions has become, to many pleasing to the eye. The same is true for black and white where tones and shades are represented so well.  This also leads to something which offers a huge advantage over digital in that film is often very forgiving if you over or underexpose it.  The reason being that film has a greater dynamic range and means that highlights and shadows are expressed well when it is correctly exposed.

 Film bought in bulk.

Film bought in bulk.

Conclusion

There are many reasons for choosing film, but the above are the ones that I feel I really notice when shooting.  There are also many draw backs to shooting with film which is in part why professionals have moved to digital.

I enjoy the creativity and the back to basics nature that film offers, for some it is just too much effort but, in the end can be very rewarding.