What I Still Love about Shooting Film

These days I don’t shoot as much film and still have a few film cameras, such as the beautifully crafted (and no longer manufactured) Zeiss Ikon SW pictured below, that I don’t plan on getting rid of any time soon. I still enjoy shooting with Holga cameras too. It’s not a Leica but these days film seems to be more about having fun. And that’s why we all got into photography in the first place—isn’t it? As I sometimes tell my workshop attendees, “if we wanted to be frustrated by our hobbies, we’d take up golf!”I enjoy making images using digital cameras, there are still a few things that I miss about shooting film.


Surprise. Phase One of a A Photographer’s Three Phases of Development” occurs immediately after a new shooter purchases their first “good” camera and discover photography’s potential for fun and creativity. During this time, novice shooters are fearless and enthusiastically explore their world creating images that look so much better than they could have ever imagined. You still get that with film.

Travel. When traveling, in addition to all the normal photo stuff I carry, I’ll also take along a laptop computer with external hard drive to store images while on the road. That’s just more gear to carry and I hate lugging extra stuff though airports. Laptops are just one more airport hassle that I’d like to avoid and I’ve spent far too many nights on the road sorting and backing up images when I should have been out soaking up local culture.

isettaTime. Digital imaging takes a lot of time. In the old days I’d drop film off at the lab and come back in a day or whatever and pick up slides or proof sheets. Nowadays we’re the lab and consequently spend more  learning and implementing new digital darkroom techniques. At a MacWorld Expo a long ago a guy told me, “I remember when I used to be creative, now I spend all my time learning new software.”

Would I trade all this and go back to shooting film exclusively? No. There’s no reason I can’t just shoot film and have my film scanned and stay in the digital realm as far as post-production goes. Years ago I labored hours in the wet darkroom to produce a composite image showing what an historic statue would look like if it was moved to a different location. Digital imaging software lets me do a better job and I wouldn’t have to spend all that time in the dark with smelly chemicals. The “I love Genie” is out of the barrel and while I’ve traded a lot to get here, I’ve also gotten more control than I ever did with film.

Author: Joe Farace

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