Is shooting film pointless in a digital age?

I have been told by people who clearly know more than I do about these things that shooting film, then digitising it, is a pointless exercise because you end up with a digital photo; why not shoot digital in the first place? Well sometimes I do shoot digital for personal projects, but it’s my choice.

So here’s my response:

1. If I shoot digital, I can only ever have a digital print from that file. Conversely, if I shoot film I have the option of a traditional (wet) print if I want it, with all the nuance and quality that gives me – far above and beyond anything achievable from a digital file.

2. Done correctly (and I’ve spent a lot of time working on this), a digital reproduction of a film negative (or positive, for that matter), should preserve much of the tonality and look of the original. It still doesn’t look like a digital image.

3. So why not add a film look to a digital original and be done with it? Because it always looks fake. And I still can’t get a traditional print from that (see 1 above).

4. When I shoot film I’ve already made certain creative choices about how I want the end result to look; I’ve baked my commitment in from the moment I loaded the film. When I shoot digital, the choices can overwhelm the creative process and the question arises, what was my original intention? What constitutes ‘the original image’?

5. Detail isn’t everything. Digital cameras now record scenes in such fine detail, it can leave the result looking sterile and forensic. Emotion and nuance are difficult to preserve in a forensic medium.

6. Why get so bent out of shape about the fact I shoot film? Some people get quite heated about this and I just don’t understand this reaction. Do they rant at watercolour artists? Do they criticise sculptors who must surely be throwing their chisels away in favour of 3D printing?

Apart from all that

I shoot film for all of the above reasons and for more besides (archival stability, provenance, approach and so on). Let me do my thing. And if my results are rubbish, by all means have a go at me for that. Criticise my results, not my method of obtaining them.

Right, I’m glad that’s settled once and for all…

PS. To see more of my personal project work, head over to https://www.takeagander.co.uk

If you sign up to my quarterly newsletter at https://www.takeagander.co.uk/contact before March 1st 2022 you’ll receive a 10% discount code for any order worth £75.00 or above AND be in with the chance to win an A4 fine art print of your choice! The winner will be announced on Friday 4th March 2022.

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