With apologies to David Letterman, my "Top Ten" Reasons to Shoot Film in 2017...
#10: You'll look cool. When I got back into film photography in late 2009, walking around town with an old film camera just kinda made me look like a goofy, old luddite. This past weekend on my photo walk in San Francisco, I was amazed to see so many hipsters shooting with their Rolleicords, Holgas and Canon AE-1s. Now, I'm retro-cool.
#9: You'll understand how and why things work. Working with software (film) with a set ISO/ASA, you really begin to understand how aperture and shutter speed effect your exposure. You'll learn about "pushing" and "pulling" film and how different film stocks can give your work different looks.
#8: Anticipation. Without the ability to stare down at a little screen and look at the image you just made, anticipation and excitement will build as you wait for your film and scans to come back from the lab. Sometimes, a shot you didn't think was going to be anything turns out to be truly something!
#7: If you don't want to anticipate, process it yourself. Developing your own black and white film at home is easy, fun and quite inexpensive. With a few chemicals, plastic developing tank and changing bag, you can control the photographic process from start to finish. There are even kits for home processing color (C-41) film.
#6: Drive a BMW for the price of a Chevy. When digital photography pushed film cameras to the brink of obsolescence, equipment became ridiculously cheap. Amazing film cameras that originally cost thousands of dollars can be had for next to nothing. A pro level Nikon F2 with a 50mm f/1.4 Nikkor lens sold new for around $3500 in today's dollars. I bought one at my local camera store in 2015 for $125. This was state of the art photography in the 1970s. The F2 is still amazing to use and makes first rate pictures.
#5: Lower your pulse rate. Film photographers talk about how film "slows you down." Of course it does. The whole process of removing a roll of film from its package, winding it on and adjusting film settings is a slower and more deliberate process. When you're limited to 12, 16, 24 or 36 exposures on a roll, you tend to take a breath and think before firing the shutter. There's something incredibly cathartic about a slow Sunday walk with a camera.
#4: G.A.S is fun! Almost all of us in this hobby have varying levels of G.A.S. or Gear Acquisition Syndrome. And at one point or another, we have too many cameras and start talking about "thinning the herd." As soon as we do and the PayPal balance swells, we're hitting the BUY IT NOW button on eBay. Truth is, buying and trying old camera gear is loads of fun. I love unboxing a new/old camera for the first time. And I love being pleased by a camera I didn't expect to like.
#3: Film isn't going away. Just a few years ago, film manufacturers were killing off film types right and left. For a while, it looked like the end of analog photography was near. Today, the future looks bright. Kodak Alaris is vibrant and healthy, reintroducing Ektachrome slide film later this year and kicking around bringing back several legacy film stocks. Ilford over in the UK reports film sales are up. Fuji continues to make several kinds of color print, slide and black and white films. Film Ferrania is selling black and white film and soon will introduce a color slide film. The Impossible Project continues to improve their recipes for Polaroid instant film and niche films like CineStill and JCH Street Film are fun to shoot! Want to live dangerously? You can find tons of expired film for sale online and the results can be extraordinary!
#2: Find your artistic inner-self. I follow several photo hobbyists, either through their blogs or their Flickr posts and it has been rewarding watching them grow from buying and trying a few old film cameras into artists with developing, unique, personal styles. You can literally see the moment that they find just the right tool, the right film and choice of subject matter that clearly shows a signature shooting style.
And the #1 reason to shoot film in 2017...The people. Since late 2009, I have met and become friends with some of the most amazing, kind and generous people. Film photographers are so giving with their time and expertise. You're never made to feel foolish for asking a question. Can't figure something out and can't find the answer on Google? Post your question on a film photography blog and everyone will be pitching in to help. I've found camera repair people who work on most every brand of classic camera, who do excellent work at reasonable prices and share our passion for keeping these old machines alive and relevant. The Flickr community is wonderful, the feedback from fellow photographers helpful and the occasional praise is encouraging. eBay sellers in the film community are, for the most part, honest and fair. Online retailers like B&H Photo and Adorama are well stocked, ship fast and stand behind what they sell. The last remaining nearby brick and mortar photo shops; my local Shutterbug Camera and the The Leica Store in San Francisco, always welcome me in by name and with a smile.
There you go. My Top 10 Reasons to Shoot Film in 2017.