Film Is Not Dead – A Digital Photographer’s Guide To Shooting Film

I think it hit me at Narita Airport in Tokyo. I wasn’t shooting any personal work anymore. I wasn’t taking my cameras out for the sheer joy of shooting. And that’s when I knew I was in trouble. I had been on the road for almost ten weeks away from my home and family, I had shot weddings literally all around the world and yet all I had to show was the wedding photos I had taken, nothing else. My digital cameras had become tools, nothing else, they had taken away the magic of photography for me.

I knew I had to find the joy again.

And to do that I went back to the roots.

When I started out ten years ago as an amateur I shot film, i played around in the darkroom and I loved what film brought to the process. When I started shooting digital, things became easy, probably too easy and I stopped shooting film for a long time.

So I was sitting there at Narita and I decided I had to start shooting some film again, just for fun to begin with. My main concern was that it’s slowly becoming “trendy” again to shoot film. I didn’t want people to think I was following suit. But after thinking about it for a while, I realized how stupid that argument was. So what if more people is discovering the joys of shooting film again?

I’ve been shooting film since that day at Narita and I’ve become friends with some amazing film shooters around the world. Their passion for film has become mine and I’ve found my way back to loving photography. I take my (film) cameras out every day, I look for light, people, compositions and other things just because I love shooting and to me that’s been worth a whole lot.

In January I attended a workshop called Film Is Not Dead and became good friends with a fantastic man called Jonathan Canlas. All he wants is for people to discover the wonders of shooting film and it is impossible not to listen to what he has to say. We’ve become good friends and will most likely collaborate on some great things in the future.

A couple of weeks ago Jonathan released an e-book called “Film Is Not Dead – A Digital Photographer’s Guide To Shooting Film“.

It covers everything you need to know about shooting film, different cameras, film stocks, metering and a bunch of other things that are great to know if you’re considering shooting film. I read the whole thing twice back to back. I think it’s pretty amazing. And that’s why I’m promoting it here. Jonathan has arranged for me to get a few dollars per sold copy, but I’d honestly promote it for free.

Jonathan, his workshop and what’s written in this e-book has ignited my spark again and I’m out shooting morning, day and night, fullfilling ideas I’ve had for years.

And I’m doing it on film.

If you’re interested you can find out more here.

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  1. Mr Peterson, I hear you and I’m not aware of any trend hitting the continent of Africa, we sit with.. let me reiterate, I am sitting with a problem. See I grew up with film and started out a pro on film, we in Africa have always been a couple of years behind till we got high speed internet, but yeah all the pro’s were still shooting film till around 2006! Then it vanished overnight and with it, the art of processing and scanning film got lost.. I cannot find anyone reliable to process film for me in Cape Town. I have shot well over 1000 rolls in my life time and have swapped just as much assisting fashion photographers over a year and a half period so I can fully remember what proper film negs and scans should look like but no one can do it anymore, sadly it’s gone and I really dont want to go mess around developing my own color negs, disaster! so if you guys are blessed enough to have decent film labs around, USE THEM!! PLEASE use them!

  2. It might seem steep for an ebook, but what you’re getting with this book is an immense amount of knowledge that would otherwise take years to gain (it’s like the story of the Picasso napkin). I got it recently and have read it several times already! it is an absolutely fantastic book for anyone who is interested in shooting film.

  3. the price is crazy. he’s an awesome photog but an E-BOOK for $149? gotta be the most expensive pdf ever. :-/

  4. I think the main problem with digital is that people are lazy. You see a kind of result instantly and don’t have to think. Or you hurry through filters in Photoshop, without an effort. But there is something about the process of thinking when you shoot with film. I started that way, and went to a school where the students were given film & paper for free. We could do and do over, and learned tremendous amounts about photography. But you had to think. Wait for things to develop and dry. Evaluate and do over. So sometimes I pretend there is no LCD at the back of my camera, and instead of just shooting away 7 pics per second, I pretend there is only 36 frames to deal with. I force myself to stop and think more. And the pictures are good! But I’m not going back, film is too expensive for me att the moment and digital is not. As long as you have a camera, you can shoot as much as you want!

  5. $149 (that’s £92) for an e-book? When I can buy Nachtwey’s immense 460 page 40x30cm ‘Inferno’ for £61 that’s a crazy price for an e-book IMVHO.

  6. When I switched to digital a few years back I was actually loving the way my film was coming out. I had taken the time to really figure out how to shoot it the way I wanted it and it was beautiful. But, I started to feel like if I didn’t get into digital I was going to be left behind, so I switched. It was good but there was something missing. I dug out my last wedding photos from film about a year ago and knew instantly what it was. I’ve started shooting film again, in all formats for different purposes and couldn’t be happier. I’m not sure I’ll completely switch back to film for weddings but I have for all families and kids and most personal work. It just fits me and what I feel inside :)

  7. Actually I’ve been talking to Jonathan for a while now. Thinking about joining his Workshop in Miami in december or maybe later on in Salt Lake City. Just like you my cameras has become tools. Where is the passion? Thinking about getting a Hasselblad 500cw. Since Jonathan also shoots with a Contax 645 I was looking with it, but you cant find it in Sweden.

  8. I had felt the same way, I learned photography shooting film, and would not have loved photography the way I do if I had not started there. I have felt the same way though, not shooting for fun like I used too. Your last couple of posts have inspired me to break out my medium format camera again.

  9. Sounds great, but $149 for a 96 page e-book? I know photo-nuts spend huge amounts of money on their hobby, but that’s a bit steep for me. Guess I’m not quite crazy enough… Too bad, would be an interesting read I’m sure.

  10. i just don’t get the whole film thing. i mean i get it, but i don’t get it. perhaps i should invest/igate as it seems to be trending again.

  11. I’ve been feeling the same way about the ‘trendy’ thing. Film is photography to me but digital has been a fun ride for the past 16 years too. I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited about anything new in photography as I am about shooting (unexpired!) color neg film! Jon’s workshop at WPPI gave me the final push I needed. Oh, and by the way, your work is…aaaah! Thanks.

  12. Amen Jonas. I wasn’t even out of Nevada from WPPI when I ordered the e-book (read it several times already also). I was barely back in California before a Contax 645 (not trying to be a copy cat, but it seems it is the camera to get), film, light meter and all sorts of excitement were on the way. Good times ahead.


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