Why I shoot film

July 30, 2015

Ben Whitmore

One of the most commonly asked questions I get asked is why, in 2015, do I still shoot on film? Well my valued readers, that’s a rather provocative question and the answer is quite complex!

Let me start with this: I’m certainly not a digital hater. If I had to be labelled, it’d read “hybrid” shooter – a mixture of digital and film.

The nuts and bolts of it is this. At heart, I am a photojournalist, charged with the task of putting together timeline of a couple’s once-in-a-lifetime wedding day MOST of the time – the best tool to ensure I grab every memory from the ether of your day is a fully loaded, machine gun-style digital camera.

However… the rest of the time, I’m looking to create something unique and ethereal for my clients and that is where film simply cannot be surpassed.

Shooting on film challenges me. It challenges me to think outside the box and slow down. Is there a better angle? What exactly is this light doing and how can I bend it to my will? Some slight changes to the framing of an image and some attention to each detail you see through the viewfinder can make a good image, a great one.

Film does that for me because there’s just no editing. I shoot mostly medium format 645, 6x6 or 6x7 in ratio. That’s 16, 12 or 10 shots on each roll of film – 10 changes to get make your image count – modern DSLRs will shoot close to that in a single second.

I also feel that there can be sterility in the instantaneous nature of digital. I can show your images on the back of a digital camera, where as those glorious rolls of medium format film, get packaged up and put through chemical baths and worked on by the best in the development business. Sure the images eventually find themselves being saved in .jpeg format, but the colour, the depth and warmth still exist and to me, those are the pieces I’d like to hang on my wall. 

So that's the very stripped back version of why in this era of mass imagery I chose to occasionally slow down to create something worth hanging onto, something that epitomises the one day you spend wedding your soul mate. 

Ben Whitmore