“Great photography is about depth of feeling, not depth of field.” This beautiful quote by Peter Adams perfectly captures why film photography is not dead even after decades competing against affordable digital photography solutions. Film photographers will tell you that there’s something special in shooting with an analog camera, a unique connection with every image cultivated from the moment you choose the type of film to loading it into the camera and playing with developing techniques. This bond only gets stronger once the final image is ready and you get to appreciate the intricate details that make it irresistible.
On top of its extraordinary beauty and charisma, film can also be a wonderful addition to your photography website. In a world where everyone is connected to electronic devices at all times, taking the time to master the art of analog photography will give your portfolio an edge. Here are the six main reasons why we love film photography so much:
The unexpected imperfections
Technical flaws can result in surprising and charming effects that you can only dream of achieving with Instagram filters. For example, some of our favorite analog photos are tinted green or purple from film used past its expiration date. In fact, many photographers actually seek out expired film to experience the excitement of not knowing what the shot will end up looking like.
Another way to achieve these interesting image defects is by using old cameras, as in many cases the body seals become loose over time resulting in light leaks that go unnoticed until the images are developed. You can easily find expired film or old cameras online, so why not join the fun?
The character of its texture
Sometimes a film photograph looks like it has a fabric overlay, a gritty surface, or even a dreamy smoothness. The depth of this texture is a delicate feature that is often overlooked. However, once you start paying attention it simply becomes a key factor in appreciating the true beauty of a photo.
Depending on the type of film you are using, the texture can vary from a buttery soft feeling to a rough, sandpaper-like quality. This characteristic adds a new level of intensity to your work, as you will be able to capture textures with so much clarity that viewers will think they can physically touch it.
The vibrant colors
Film photography aims to grab all the color in your shot and hand paint it. The amazing variety of film choices available allows you to choose the best characteristics for each shooting – whether it’s cooler or warmer tones, more or less light, or natural or vibrant colors. Making the right gear choice, combined with a good developing and scanning process, will result in vivid and accurate colors without requiring any electrical editing.
The monochromatic charm
Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Dorothea Lange, Elliot Erwitt, Gerda Taro, Robert Capa, Man Ray… We don’t need to look hard to find reasons to love achromatic film photos. So many outstanding photographers across vastly different genres united by the magic of black and white film.
Monochromatic film is a classic. The deep blacks, contrast and dark shadows are any photographer’s dream. Some shots are just meant to be taken in black and white, and film manages to capture this in the moodiest of ways.
The sweet nostalgia
One cannot talk about film without mentioning the nostalgic sentiment most people get when looking at analog photos or even thinking about them. The feeling of holding an old film camera and carrying around rolls of film brings us back to a different era and reminds us of cherished memories. This heartwarming feeling is believed to be one of the main reasons behind the growing trend of photographers going back to film over the last few years.
Yet it’s about so much more than just reminiscing about past experiences. Film also makes us miss a time when the world moved slower. Think about it. What would you see if you checked your camera memory right now? Chances are you would see dozens of shots of the same subject in a similar scene, just because new technologies allow you to do so without fear of running out of shots. With film every exposure is precious. Now imagine that you only have 24 frames to capture, wouldn’t you put much more thought on each of them?
The authenticity edge
Our sixth and last reason is the added creativeness factor that film photography can give your portfolio. Whether you choose to incorporate film for a handful of shots at a wedding or transition to offering packages entirely shot in film, this offering can become a special niche with endless possibilities for creative exploration as well as attract new clients.
Experimenting is the best way to find your way around film photography and see how you can incorporate it into your work. Try bringing a compact 35mm or a Lomo camera along on your next photoshoot and use it to capture a few shots. Worse case-scenario: you have some fun playing around with it. Best case-scenario: you can give your clients a couple bonus photos.