Although I've taken to shooting digital almost exclusively for clients and fashion work, I still use film for my personal work. During a recent photo-shoot in Calgary, I had the opportunity to shoot a few rolls of film in between shots taken with a digital camera. When I got the film back from the lab I scanned in the negatives using an Epson Perfection 2450 Photo flatbed scanner. Normally I'd remove all the dust and specs in Photoshop, however when I saw the shot (posted above) I was enthralled by the contrasty, gritty look I got from using film. I decided to leave the dust since it added character and seemed to enhance the vintage look of the image.
The effect of grain and contrast can be simulated in Photoshop or even third-party dedicated software. So why shoot with film?
At this point almost every professional photographer would agree that for most applications digital is the way to go. Film has lost it's dominance as the medium on which most pictures are taken. It's a medium in rapid decline, but recently has been showing some signs of life. The bulk of the photos that have molded and shaped our view on life were taken with film. Great fashion photographers like Herb Ritts, Richard Avedon, Patrick Demarchelier and others all used film. Film has an organic, textual charm that digital seems to lack and more than a few newbies have been buying film to experiment with. Kodak recently released a brand new film called Ektar 100, so it seems that a market for film still exists.
The beauty of photography is that it's all about choices. Hopefully as time goes by, the choice to use film will remain a creative option and companies will continue to invest time and energy in producing it.
I believe the medium matters. The medium shapes and alters our work. Our creations inherit attributes imbued by the medium. It's something that, when embraced, can take your work to a new level of creative exploration. There's something deep within the process of using tangible mediums that affects an artist and the results come through in his or her work.
Over the next few months I will try to shoot a least one roll of film on each fashion photo-shoot. Watch this blog for the results.