Millennials have easily adapted to the latest breakthroughs in technology, causing everyone to consider us as tech-savvy. While millennials have become accustomed to things that are automatic, though, I tend to stay analog in terms of photography. What interests me the most about film photography is the process itself. I feel a connection to the craft from loading the film into the camera to the palpable excitement of viewing the processed outputs.
I bought my first film camera as a birthday present for myself last May 2017, a Zenit 11 (35 mm SLR, full metal body built). It wasn’t smooth sailing at first. I struggled with producing an image with perfect composition and exposure, but this didn’t become an impediment to me. Instead, it became an inspiration to do well in my craft.
The great thing about learning film photography is that it forces you to study the basics. Putting some time into understanding the basics in photography can give you a big leap in building your foundation. I may not have proper training nor background in photography; but by watching YouTube channels and reading articles about film photography, I was able to grasp the building knowledge that I needed.
During the process, you have to be creative and wait for the perfect timing before shooting. In digital photography, you can take tons of photos and just delete the images that you find useless. In film photography, it’s different. When you load a film, you’ll have 24 to 36 exposures for a 35 mm camera, which makes you think twice before clicking. You have to carefully examine the composition before clicking the shutter-release button. This will test and develop your patience in regards to perfect timing.
For the best result, I have also learned that rather than avoiding lights and shadows, I need to incorporate them in my composition because they can add drama to my output. However, the challenge starts with the availability of output after you take a shot. Unlike digital photography where the output is readily available after you click the shutter-release button; in film photography, you’ll have to wait until the negatives have been developed. From there, you can see whether you lack or have an excessive amount of lights and shadows. Through trial and error, I was able to develop effective knowledge-building skills in terms of playing with the lights and shadows, which give me better composition.
Lastly, I choose film photography because I am fascinated with the soft and dreamy effects of film. These effects are nostalgic and have a timeless beauty. In fact, some photo editing applications offered today have a preset to copy the look of film cameras.
In line with this, the element of surprise and satisfaction are relatively high in film photography. There are times when your outputs may contain flaws like light leaks and noise, which usually turn out even more appealing. I consider these as perfect imperfections that make film photography unique and captivating.