Film vs. Digital
Film versus digital. I get asked a lot what camera I'm shooting on. And I shoot on quite a few different camera systems, from 35 millimeter film point-and-shoots to SLRs, DSLRs and medium format film camera systems. Each one of these cameras have their own sets of strengths and weaknesses. But honestly, there aren't many images in my portfolio that I couldn't have created with even this little point and shoot. So to me, this totally illustrates that in a photo; light, expression, timing, camera position, et cetera, these things are all far more important than how many megapixels your camera has or how new it is, or how much dynamic range you have. We need to prioritize the image over the medium. And I kind of think about it this way. If my photo is good, I absolutely do not care what it was shot on. That being said, we can capitalize on the strengths of whatever camera we have and use that as leverage when we're out shooting. You might have a little point and shoot like this, or some o...
ther small and light camera. So why don't we take advantage of how portable it is and go shoot an activity, or shoot in a place that would be way harder to access with a big heavy camera. I think about all of these cameras in this sort of way and they each have their own pluses. But if you picked any one of them, I wouldn't at all feel like I was at a disadvantage. Okay. So now we have the question. Film or digital? And I honestly really dislike that sort of weighted question. And the answer for me is both. I mean, I love how I can shoot fast action with digital cameras, and I can shoot it until I know I've got this shot nailed. I can almost shoot in what seems like almost perfect darkness without a tripod, and the flexibility you get in post-production is awesome. But I also love how film handles skin tones and brighter light, and honestly kind of how not knowing if I've got the perfect frame brings more concentration during the shoot. So, I'll shoot a lot of film when it's a little bit brighter out, usually from right after sunrise to right before sunset. And in that kind of brighter light with harsher shadows, I think it looks better than I can edit it, or at least it gets there more effortlessly. It's important to me that people don't look at my work and think about what medium I used to get there. So I want the beauty of film, the flexibility of digital and on my own, I want the judgment to know when to use either. On a lot of my work, I get asked what camera I used or what film stock I used. And that kind of feels like a success because I don't want people to see my work partitioned as digital work and film work. And often they're asking what film stock I used on a digital photo and vice versa. I just want them to see it as my work. So for me, knowing when to shoot film to get the best results and learning how to edit my digital photos to take only the best parts of film is super important. So when would I use either and how would I use them together in the same shoot? So I'll usually start out with digital. At the start of the shoot I'm not normally where I wanna be creatively yet so it's good to have some leeway getting warmed up and figuring things out. And it takes a little bit to get into that flow going between you and your subject too. So I typically shoot this part on digital and again I'm constantly reminding myself if the photo is good, I don't care what it was shot on. And now once I've identified some things that I like, I'll try to take just a few more frames, again with the digital, and then to shoot the same thing on film. And a lot of the time I'm maybe taking one, two, or three shots on the film camera then switching back to the digital. And when I feel like the shoot is gaining more momentum creatively, and when I'm more comfortable and more present likewise for my subject, then I'll often switch back to film and shoot a bit more, but it can really be as many or as few frames as I feel like. There's no set percentage for me. Sometimes it's really heavy with a digital camera, and sometimes it's almost all film. But I think when you're starting out it's a good idea to try to set yourself up for success. So maybe shooting more digital than film at first might be the best way. On commercial shoots, I am almost always shooting digital. It's important for clients to know that they've got the shot at the time of capture, and they typically want a bit of flexibility in post-processing. I do keep a film camera around though, and I'll do the same sort of thing as we just talked about, kind of bouncing back and forth from film to digital. If I think it's a shot that might be portfolio worthy. And so even if I don't end up using that film photo, I still get a really great reference for comparing edits later on. So that's my relationship with the mediums. And instead of it being some versus type of relationship, it's one that utilizes both for their distinct advantages.