Having been an event photographer for over a decade, I am constantly looking for new ways to stay engaged with my craft. I mean this in a good way, but making images at an event with my digital cameras has become routine. My cameras are like extension of my body and once you put one in my hand, I completely zone into a meditative, creative space: I begin to move and think in certain ways with a fluid precision that can only be developed by thousands of hours spent developing habits. So what’s wrong with that? Well, nothing actually. This is ultimately where you want to be as a professional photographer. You want to be at a point in which you are no longer thinking about photography at a conscious level so that you are able to seamlessly document moment to moment without any hiccups over technical issues or the equipment you are using.
Familiarity with my craft is a great thing. But I know routine can prevent me from finding new ways to push my creativity, enhance my skill level, and find new ways of doing things. It is important for me to always consider new ways of make images. Sometimes this is for the benefit of my craft or skill. Other times it is simply to stay engaged with my work by infusing some extra fun into it.
For me, shooting film achieves all of this. Theres something extremely satisfying about manually operating a camera to do things modern cameras automate. This manual process forces me to consciously think about making images again. Because I use so many vintage cameras, my relative lack of familiarity with them in comparison to my usual work tools, forces me to stop and think. The limited number of shots I get on a roll forces me to more seriously consider if its worth pressing the shutter. When shooting digital, I always shoot with intention. But there is something about knowing you have a finite number of shots on a roll of film that enhances that. The stakes are raised and its thrilling.
With digital files, the tedious part of the job begins once the shooting ends. Culling and editing digital files is a lot of work. Because I strive to make meaningful images at an event, most of my images are keepers. But that said, I want to deliver the best to my clients which means painstakingly editing down the images I deliver.
But with film, it is almost as if the fun begins once I get home. A skilled photographer does not need to have a digital screen to know their images came out. The more you understand photography, which includes understanding how the camera sees in comparison to your human eyes, the less mystery there is in how your images are going to turn out. But with film you never really know until you see them with your own eyes. Every step of the hands on development process I do at home is filled with anticipation and focus. Like the first time I developed a roll of film, there is something magical about the first time I see my images. I have found this delayed gratification incredibly rewarding. What I once bemoaned about the process of photography, I now enjoy. And for me this very process has reinvigorated my passion for professional photography.
you can hear more of my thoughts in the video below!