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What Film Does that Digital Can't

CJ Chilvers
CJ Chilvers
1 min read

Lesser photography doesn’t necessarily mean analogue photography, it just means finding ways to boost your creativity by recognizing the power of constraints, editing and storytelling.

For some photographers, that means choosing film over pixels. Why? There are still some things film does better, while remaining a constraint.

There are obvious technical differences that makes film a great choice for long exposures and easy panoramics, but more intriguing are the differences that affect more than can be measured.

Eric Kim recently wrote about why he switched over to film for his street photography projects (via Mike McKniff). He noticed that not focusing on individual images in a monitor helped him concentrate on the story he was trying to compose. He could also refuse to delete an image when asked, because it wasn’t possible. His camera doesn’t need to be upgraded every few years - in fact, it will last the rest of his life. But over all, he reports a sense of mindfulness that comes from the process of telling the story and developing the images by hand that seems missing from digital.

Mahesh Venkitachalam wrote about why he’s a better digital photographer, because of his slide film use (via Peter Wingard). Slide film is an unforgiving mental boot camp that forces you to consider everything you know about exposure and composition before every click of the shutter. You can’t hide the holes in your photography education when using slide film. It’s a learning process that can’t be taught any other way.

One more thing digital can’t do: be archived.