Why I still shoot with film for my wall art (and any other photography)
I grew up with analogue photography and loved the look of Kodak Kodachrome with its unique cinematography look on celluloid and the grainy darkness of Kodak Tri-x. Think about the vivid colours in William Egglestone photos and the dark and edgy black and white images by Peter Lindbergh. To me film photography felt magical. So when digital photography came along, I was determined not to give up film. However, while trying to resist the whimsical movement toward digital, I felt very isolated and quieted down. A lot of photographers told me to give up. Film was now over.
I have resisted as much as I could. When I started my MA in photography, I quickly realised the limitations of analogue photography by using studio lighting. I had never used artificial lighting with film, and digital was an easy way to learn to use lights.
I have to tell you that I was the typical photographer saying I would only ever shoot on film and natural light. This was not compatible with doing an MA in photography. I was pushed out of my comfort zone by learning to use a digital camera and playing with lights and shadows using strobes. I’m grateful for that, as my photography skills have improved tremendously, and I still can’t use strobes with analogue photography, but I’m learning!
During that time, I also jumped on the opportunity to buy a medium format analogue camera at a bargain (this is not the case anymore). I acquired a Fuji670W, a Pentax645NII and a Hasselblad. I later received a Contax 645 and even a 4×5 camera. Since I have sold my Fuji670GW and Pentax, I deeply regret that, as their price has increased beyond means. I still have my Hasselblad and even bought a Pentax 67. These are real workhorse cameras, and my back is not happy about it, but I can’t give up on them. So I often travel with a digital and analogue camera, and I absolutely love the results on film.
Last May, I went to Rimini in Italy for the first time ever, and carried both my analogue and digital camera. No need to tell you that I loved the results of the images shot on film. They have a very cinematic feel with saturated solid colours, and you can only get them in the square format.
There’s a whole routine attached to working in analogue form. Taking photos on film forces you to slow down and consider each shot carefully. You can’t just snap a bunch of pictures on film. Because you have a limited number of frames you can expose, you’re gonna think twice before you press the shutter, and if a picture is not worth taking, then you won’t. So you have to be very thorough in preparing your images. Thinking about your exposure, it’s best to use a light meter to ensure the results are spot on.
Once you’ve got your film, you need to send them to the lab and forget all about it. Then one day, you receive an email from the lab telling you your films are ready. How exciting! It feels like Christmas when I download the files and look through each roll. And yes, sometimes the results can be very disappointing as you are still learning the technical side of using film (even though I have been using film forever), but most often than not, the results keep you in owe and make you want to shoot with the film even more.
Will my wall art look different if it’s shot on film?
The image shot on film might will look softer and even more grainy, it all depends on the type of camera they have been shot on. It will be more obvious it the images have been shot on a 35mm camera than a medium format. This all adds to the image’s mood though. If you love sharp images, wall art shot on film might not be for you. But if you love the editorial, cinematic style, and images with a unique feel, then yes, you will love wall art shot on film.
Photographing on film is also a time consuming and expensive process therefore your prints will be more expensive than the ones printed on Photographic lustre paper.
I therefore choose to print analogue photography wall art on giclée fine art paper to embody the artistic process and render the best definition of the images and colour tones. These wall art have a nostalgic feel and deserve to be printed on paper that embodies this style the best.
Analogue photography is having a big revival, especially among the young generations. I have even seen magazine fashion editorials shot on film which didn’t happen for years! I wish I had trusted myself a bit more and not sold some of my analogue cameras.
Despite the camera weight I cannot give up on film. I’ve been shooting film for years and will continue to do so because of the beautiful look it creates.
What do you think? Would you prefer to buy wall art that has been shot on film? Share in the comments.