Why Film Photography Matters

You’re flipping through pictures on your camera roll, and they’re nice, but just...alright, you know? Why don’t they look like the rich images in your grandma’s scrapbook, you ask? The answer is because grandma's are film and yours are not.

Film photography is a lost art. After starting a black and white film photography class, I have learned to appreciate the wonder that is developing film. There are so many miraculous steps required in creating an image through film photography. Nowadays, we often forget how amazing it is to capture an image because we can just whip out our phones and snap a shot.

It’s wild to think that someone invented the process that creates an image. Our phones also automatically filter out light (which is what a light meter does on a film camera) which makes us be less appreciative of how hard it is to get the right light for an image. There are functions on a film camera separate from the light meter that you change in order to allow light to come in and change how your image appears once it’s developed. Crazy, right?

After you fix all of your settings and use a light meter to determine how the settings should be set in order to produce a certain look for your photo, you obviously are able to take the picture. Now comes the even MORE involved part - development. There is a series of about eight steps, which include spooling the film onto a reel in complete darkness (impossible) and then filling the light safe chamber containing the reel and film with different chemicals and/or water and then agitating and rinsing all of it with specific instructions.

After that insane process, the film is dried using a squeegee and hung to dry further (and it is suggested that you add a chemical who’s street name is “photo flow” but that’s a whole ‘nother thing).

The image is projected onto light sensitive papr once the negative is cut and put on the machine in the darkroom. Then, the paper is soaked in about four different chemicals for different periods of time before being hung to dry. Phew.

BUT WAIT - it’s worth it. Film images are exceptionally beautiful. They're beautiful enough for me to go through all the effort to create them. They have a slight grain and look like pictures you see when flipping through an iconic vintage photograph book. It’s just breathtaking to be able to translate your life into film. It’s like stepping back in time.

Another fascinating thing is that color film photography is a completely different process with different chemicals that we don’t even learn in my two month long course… truly spooky! Even my professor (a professional photographer who shoots exclusively in film and develops all her black and white film herself in her home dark room) refuses to develop her own color film and drops it off downtown to get developed.

Go ahead and start your career as a film photographer and see how beautiful life looks in film.