Using Film Photography to Inspire the Creative Process


Photography is a vast form of expression but for nearly every person who participates in its world, creativity is at least considered, if not passionately pursued. For myself, film photography fuels this creative process. Yes, digital photography does this for me as well but shooting with film fuels this process even more so. It’s amazing how the simple element of not being able to immediately review the image changes my focus on the attention to details. Some photographers say there is no second chance with film but I disagree. As long as your subject is static and the light isn’t quickly changing I can always take another frame. However, I can’t see what I just created. Because film shooting doesn’t allow me to instantly review the image it makes me stop and think before I press the shutter. This pause is how film helps to inspire the creative process for myself.

Windows At Sunset – Minolta CLE – Fuji Superia X-Tra 400 – Voigtlander 40mm f1.4 – f8 1/250 -1 EC

I have to consider everything that is affecting the image I am about to create. What elements are about to appear on this negative? I scan corner to corner in the viewfinder thinking of what will be seen. Many times this slows me down just enough to think about other variables that contribute to an improved composition; light, depth, balance, leading lines, shape relationships, opposing colors, figure-to-ground, etc. In addition, exposure becomes so much more important. Yes, in the digital world I try to get my exposure where I want it on the first shutter click but it’s always in the back of my mind that I can chimp and adjust if necessary. With film, it’s a wasted frame and of course, I can’t take it back.

Silo Chute – Canon Rebel T2 – Fujicolor 200 – Sigma 35mm F1.4Art – f1.4 1/750

In digital photography, many times I find myself hoping and praying. I’ll see something, an internal alarm will sound and I’ll just shutter click and chimp. I don’t throw all considerations out the window. As I’m pulling that digital camera to my eye, I’ll be considering my framing, possibly moving my exposure compensation dial and considering my focus zone if I’m using manual focus, but many times I’m hoping that my quick gut reaction and a little luck allows for the image to look good to my eye when it’s all captured and done. There are times when this method has its uses and advantages. I enjoy “Street Photography” style shooting and many times the decisive moment is fleeting and a quick reaction is necessary or the moment will be lost.

Reading Together – Minolta SRT 101 – Ilford XP2 Super 400 – Minolta RokkorX 50mm1.4 – f1.4 1/30

However, many times I’ll find myself realizing that for this particular creation there was no need to shutter click and chimp. I had oodles of time to make changes that could have improved my creation.  Regardless if those changes were for composition or camera settings, I should have made them before I reacted. The time I spent shutter clicking and then reviewing was essentially wasted. That time could have been better spent making the necessary changes to improve the image. I believe practising film photography is helping me to exercise this decision process. My Film Beginnings Project is helping my mind quickly decide if I’m faced with a moment where a quick gut reaction is called for and I just capture the image or I’m able to take a few moments to make some changes that will improve this image creation.

AlleyArt-CanonRebelT2-Fujicolor200-Sigma35mmF1.4Art-f2.8 1/60

This extra concentration has not only spurred me to at least put more consideration into my creative process but it has also brought me more enjoyment in my photography. When I have the time, spending a few more moments to create will only help me to capture more shots that are satisfying to my eye. Using film photography inspires me to improve the creative process. I have completed my first roll of film for my Film Beginnings Project and once I have it developed and scanned I’ll post a few of those images in the near future. I encourage you to please follow along. You can subscribe with your email or click the “follow” button in the bottom right corner is you’re a WordPress reader.

Camera Donation Page 

My Film Beginnings Project has also intrigued me to try using other 35mm film cameras along the way. If you have a working 35mm film camera that you no longer use please take a look here to see what I’m thinking. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. 

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