Top 3 Reasons why You Should Give Film Photography a Shot

In today’s world of quantity over quality, I think taking a little extra time and slowing down would benefit us all. Here are my top three reasons on why you should give film photography a shot.

My story of discovering and falling in love with shooting photos on film

There are so many incredible photography cameras out there today to capture all of the moments in our lives.  Everything from high end professional DSLRs to the smartphones in our pockets.  While I do find these cameras useful and fun, I wanted to share my story of exploring the world of 35mm film photography.  In the past few years I have dove into the world of shooting on film and it has changed my life in regards to photography. 

At first I just needed something different to use in my personal life away from the work grind of professional digital photography and videography.  I found myself leaving my cameras at home on travels and nature trips because shooting photos and video was my job and I was feeling burned out.  In walked 35 film cameras.  I grew up with a mother who loved shooting on her film camera and when her father passed away I was given an old chest of photography and film equipment. Among the 8mm film cameras and old SLR cameras was a Zeiss Ikon Contessa.  It is a beautiful old camera with a built-in lens that folds out from a drop down window.  And being a Zeiss camera, it worked perfectly after years of no use.  I took the camera to Europe for the first time traveling with my partner, and fell in love. 

Film photography can capture tones, textures and lighting in truly unique ways.

Shortly after the trip the old camera started acting up so I looked to find a film camera that was mine.  One that I picked out and could use for the rest of my life.  After weeks of research I bought my first Leica – an M4 built in Germany around 1968.  Equipped with a matching Leica 35mm lens, I have never looked back.  Being a rangefinder camera and built like a tank, I use it everywhere from the tops of mountain peaks to the busy city streets.  It is the only camera I bring on personal travel and special occasions with family and friends. 

Why shoot film photography when you have a camera phone in your pocket?

After years of using the film camera, and starting to realize that we all have thousands of photos stored in our phone, I began to think back to family albums and how precious certain photos used to be.  It got me thinking about how we walk through life and how we all have a desire to capture moments.  There is not one of us that doesn’t have years of photos on our smart phone.  But what will we do with these photos?  Where will they all go in the future?  Surely we can’t keep them all.  And if we did, would we ever look back at all of them?  Probably not.  This is where I think everyone who loves shooting photos can benefit from shooting on film.  In today’s world of more more more, quick quick quick, I think taking a little extra time and slowing down would benefit us all.  Here are my top three reasons on why shooting on film will change your life.

Top 3 Reasons why You Should Give Film Photography a Shot

Reason Number 1: Aesthetics

The real treat of film photography is the look.  No Instagram filters needed.  No hours on photoshop.  Just find the film stocks you like and shoot away.  What you shoot is what you get, and you won’t be disappointed.  Diving into the plethora of film stock out there will keep your artistic juices flowing and the idea of editing these photos digitally will become laughable.  I have read countless articles lately on getting your digital film and video to look like film.  There are hundreds of aftermarket filters and apps to create a “film look” for your photos you share with the world.  Why not just buy a cheap film camera and create it that way?  When you shoot through a particular camera with a particular lens and a particular film stock, the look is yours and yours alone.       

Reason Number 2: Time

You will slow down shooting film.  Since you have only 30 photos in a roll, each snap is precious.  You will be hunting for the precise moment, the perfect light, the exact scene.  You won’t be running around shooting every little thing and moment that passes by.  In doing this, you will also enjoy not looking through a lens a lot more as well.  Instead of seeing something interesting and immediately grabbing the phone to shoot a quick snap, you might just enjoy the moment for the moment’s sake, and that is a thing of beauty in itself.  And the photos that do come out will mean so much more.  The ones you took the time to get the light right, the moment perfect, and the scene exact.      

Reason Number 3: Unplug

I am a big believer we need to be doing more manual things in our ever increasing digital world.  Any time we can spend away from digital devices, I believe, is becoming more and more important.   I am reading a great book right now on the beauty of manual work entitled, Shop Class as SoulCraft, and it has blown my mind open a bit.  In our pursuit to make things easier and faster, we have lost the beauty of working with our hands.  Now shooting on a film camera is not exactly hard manual labor but it is in its core essence manual. You have to load the film, use a light meter, set the shutter speed, the aperture, wind, and shoot! There is less time staring at a digital screen, and everyone could use a break from staring at their phone. As a bonus it becomes something you need to care for. Cleaning and maintenance is a must with film cameras and you slowly develop a relationship with your creative tool. That will only make those beautiful images you capture later ever more meaningful.   

If you are interested in learning more about shooting on film or would like to hire a professional photographer in Montana to shoot your project on film, drop us a message. We would love to connect with you regardless of whether you are a life-long film professional, just learning, or interested in hiring a professional photographer!

– Ben

Ben Zeimet is Missoula Media Company’s lead photographer and videographer, and is a truly gifted artist with years of professional experience behind the lens.