We live in a digital age and nobody can really deny it. While I think this is great (heck, all of my projects require a computer at one point), and as much as I love that everything became so easy to do and use lately, there’s just one thing where I prefer the analog way of working over the digital one: photography. Of course, like most film photographers, I digitalize the pictures I take with my film camera, but this isn’t what it’s all about for me.
So, what is it about, then? What makes me love analog photography so much? First of all, the process. I’m not talking about the processing of film – no, I’m talking about the process of taking a picture. For me, carefully taking a photograph with an analog camera is totally different from snapping away with a digital one. I’ll be honest with you, I photographed solely with my digital SLR until a few months ago. That was until the point where my grandfather showed me his Pentax Auto 110, the tiniest SLR I have ever seen in my life. I loved it at first sight (but that was mostly due to the fact that I’m a massive hipster), and I was allowed to take it home (because my grandfather didn’t use it anymore), but I didn’t end up using it myself right away. It took me a week to get the courage to enter a local store, open my wallet and buy film for the little beauty, but when I finally did, I was extremely excited.
So, that process of taking a photo with, say, my Pentax, what is it all about, then? Precision. The advantage of being able to just snap away with any digital camera is also a disadvantage in a way. It often makes people take photos in a nonchalant kind of way, which isn’t always good. It’s a luxery to have the option to delete a failed picture, and in some situations that luxery has negative consequences.
With a film camera, every photo will cost you money in the end. 24 pictures from my Pentax cost me €15, to give you an idea. That includes all costs; from buying the film up until receiving the prints.
So why would money make analog photography more precise? Well, nobody likes wasting money. When you click the shutter, you’ve basically just spent a (small) part of your well-earned cash. And it’s permanent, there’s no way to delete your photo once you’ve taken it. This makes you more consious of taking a really good picture.
So, the process is one thing, but in the end, photography is mostly about the end result: the photo you’ve taken. A picture made with a digital camera is pretty much perfect quality-wise. Or at least, that’s what it wants to be. I like high quality and perfectly sharp images, but I personally think photos taken with a film camera have so much more character and personality to them. For me, there’s a whole philosophy behind this thought.
See, let’s compare pictures to humans. No human on earth is perfect, and like humans, there is no photo taken with an analog camera that is perfect – in terms of quality. There’s often is a subtle grain in the image and if you’re unlucky, obvious scratches. In a way, this makes a film camera picture feel more human and thus more relatable than a digital one.
I’ve been wanting to write about this topic for a while, but never really found the right words to describe what I love about film/analog photography. One thing to remember is that film and digital both have their advantages and disadvantages. I still use my digital camera, because it’s simply more convenient at some, if not most situations. But heck, I’ll keep using analog cameras until film is not produced anymore, which I hope will never happen.
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