Film photography: a specialized art form


Film photography is uncommon, but will remain a unique art form. (photo by Jaclyn Sinclair)

You load the film, prepare the settings and, knowing you only have 24 exposures on your roll, you take the time to frame each photo perfectly. You double check the lighting and the dials. You observe your surroundings and rule out anything not worth the space on your roll.

These differences in the process of film photography can produce a very different finished product than in digital.

Kira Wu, photography professor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University says that for her and other artists, it’s about the subject matter of their work. The medium that is used affects the finished product. In that way, film and digital photography can be seen as two different mediums.

“Both forms of photography has its own essences or details,” Wu says.

Wu says film photography has a lot more “tactile qualities to the print” and it has many more tones, while being able to work with digital allows the artist to manipulate images much more easily in Photoshop.

There is also something great about holding a photo in your hands that makes it more real, especially in a world where the majority of our documents and photos only appear on a screen. An image on your computer can easily be lost and you would never know it was there. But a box of photos on your shelf can’t be ignored forever. Film’s tactile quality causes us to pay more attention to it.

The majority of the world has transferred over to digital photography and left film behind but there is a lot being lost in the process. The differences between film and digital are not just convenience and cost.

When using a film camera, the photographic experience is heightened and the experience of taking a photograph, going through the process of getting it developed and then judging the final image produces a different finished product.

Wu says “for a lot of my students, film has been a really good stepping stone for digital.”

“Paring everything down and making yourself look at something and thinking about it before you actually take the picture, that’s a valuable process,” she says. On a digital camera, you might snap 10 photos without even one great photo appearing.

“We do the snapshot or we scroll through on our iPhones looking at things for a second. We miss things. Film photography forces us to stop doing that and…notice what you’re looking at and all the little details of that photograph,” Wu says.

Wu believes that being able to work with the basic technologies, like film, will never become obsolete. “Those [skills] are valuable and they’ll continue to…evolve into maybe specialized artistic forms, like painting and drawing kind of have.”

Though digital is a lot more easy to get your hands on these days, film will remain uncommon but unique.

Jaclyn Sinclair

Student with an interest in all things Lifestyle, with a particular love for photography and photo-journalism.

Be first to comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.