How Shooting With A Cheap Film Camera Will Actually Make You A Better Photographer

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Let me start by saying I love my digital cameras. I’m not here to convince you to ditch your digitals and to embrace old technology. That would be silly. Just think of all the great things digital cameras have allowed to do, like fill the internet with an endless supply of inspiration. Not to mention how much more efficient a well oiled digital workflow is compared to film. Digital is awesome and I’m excited to see where it takes us in the future.

But…

Film Is Pretty Awesome Too, You Guys

My first camera was a film camera. As was my second and third. In fact, I was a pretty late DSLR adopter. I shot exclusively with film up until about 2013. If you would have asked me in 2011 if I would trade in my film cameras for a DSLR, the answer would have been a resounding no way.

Though I finally caved to the convenience of a DSLR to accommodate my endless travels, I’m forever grateful I got my start on film. I learned a lot from those days–some lessons were harder to learn than others.

Tee @ Hội An

Slow Down And Think About It

The biggest advantage I gained when shooting was film was realizing how important it is to SLOW DOWN. There is less room for mistake when shooting with film. It is both more costly and takes a considerable more amount of time to do than when shooting digital. You can’t just go out and snap a thousand photos of the same thing using different angles.

Yes, this is one of the advantages of shooting digital, and I admit, I do advocate taking a lot of photos when that is an option. But, learning how to slow down and plan your shots out will help you, well, plan your shots! When you’re taking the time to plan your shots, you’re taking the time to think about what your doin.

The keyword here is thinking, not just snapping photos all willy nilly. As a film photographer, I learned how to combine the best of both those worlds!

Hoa vs Yellow Cosmos

Don’t Take The Histogram For Granted

When you’ve ever had something, it’s hard to realize you just how much of a good thing it can be. Enter the histogram.

As a film photographer, I don’t think I realized just how glorious the histogram is. And it really is. Once you learn how to read the historgram and understand all the useful bits of exposure information it can provide to you almost instantly, it’s something you’re not going to want to give up. It’s so much less stressful when you can snap a photo and immediately check the histogram to see if you need to try it again.
You don’t have this luxury when shooting film. And if you ever go back to an old film camera, you will miss the histogram. A lot. I sure do at least. That’s why I always make sure to take advantage of it when I’m shooting with my DSLR.
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The Reward Is In The Journey

Even though I still seem to be traveling more often than not, I still occasionally get an itch to shoot with film. There’s something about the way it feels to snap the shutter and wind the film. Whenever I get the chance to shoot a roll of film, it gives me the same feelings I get as when I finally make it back home after a long journey. A home sweet home kind of feeling.

Occasionally, if I happen to come across a cheap film camera during my travels, I’ll buy it and take it out for a spin. Every time I get to do this, I’m reminded of how awesome the medium is and cool it is I got to learn a critical photography skills because of it.

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Published Sunday, October 30th, 2016 Pin It

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About the Author: Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller is an adventure and fine art photographer based in Hawaii. When she's not climbing volcanoes or swimming with sharks, you could probably find her relaxing in a hammock with a book somewhere near the ocean.