Posts Tagged ‘film photography’

The Reality of Film

First of all, no instant gratification. Zippo. That’s when you lean on years of experience and tell your clients not to worry. It’s part of the process; part of the art, craft and science of traditional photography.

Imagine taking a canvas away from a painter and replacing it with a computer monitor and you’ll understand where I’m going.

In my case, I only shoot in black and white. So I don’t have to worry about color balance, not that the rest is just as complicated.

First,  I use 30 second Instant Film for the lighting. And once I’m satisfied that everything is as I intended, I go to film, which must then go to the lab for processing.

If this sounds dicey, it is. But it’s also why my photographic contracts and day rates were five times higher back in the day than what photographers commonly see today. There was no room for error, and no way to “fix” problems. Your job was to nail it, and if you didn’t, you were never hired again.

This forced us to be more careful, to concentrate more on each and every frame, and to squeeze as much life as possible from the subjects, because we only had one shot at it.

This topic is a controversial one, and I’m not here to disparage anyone from using digital cameras and its joined-at-the-hip stepchild, Adobe Photoshop. I use both. But not for my fine art.

I like rolling film, going into a darkroom and not knowing every nuance of what was recorded until the contact sheets are in hand.

And I like relying on my experience, talent and hard work to produce the results I’m after. And if for some reason it doesn’t happen, I have to start all over again, which I try never to do.

This effort and attention to exacting detail explain why were were in a class of our own and damn proud of it.