Film photography: A practice in patience...

...and why its important to get a few dud photos in your roll of photos sometimes.

Life always seems to be a rush. A rush to get somewhere on time, a rush to meet a deadline, a rush to get home after work, a rush to capture that millisecond of a moment... I always feel like I'm in a rush and I am always impatient. This is probably the main reason why film photography is still so much of a huge challenge for me.


These photos were taken in a rush, as you can probably tell, they're aren't quite focused, there's a bit of motion blur in some and when I got this roll developed, I kicked myself. I knew when I was taking them that they weren't going to look good enough but I didn't stop to slow down or even just stop to wait for a more appropriate time to finish off the roll of photos. I wanted to take photos and the camera, the wrong film and the light wasn't going to stop me... and in the end, I compromised my own results.

Sometimes I wonder why I don't buy a fancy DSLR - I could play with the aperture with that and still have the level of control with the focus that I love with both the Olympus OM-10 and the Zenit B and I would have my photos instantly, I wouldn't have to be patient.


However its not what I would gain that stops me from buying a digital camera, but what I would lose.

I would lose the process of refinement that comes from each roll of photo I take with film - you have to improve with film photography - each mistake is wasted money and time. You can't just delete a photo you don't like, its permanent.

I would lose the importance of getting that one shot exactly right. I rarely retake shots, even if I get it wrong, that moment has passed and I either got it or I didn't, no deleting, no retaking, no do overs, just me that moment and my decisions- good or bad.


I would lose the art of waiting for something - waiting for that right moment to take a photo when the film, the camera and the amount of light were the perfect combination - waiting for films to be developed - waiting to put your CD in the computer straight away to see your photos - waiting to share them as soon as you can.

I would lose the art of making the right choices. For a film photo to really work - you have to make all the right choices before you even press the shutter - the right ISO film for the lighting conditions, the right aperture for your required depth of field, the right shutter speed so that you don't get any motion blur or over exposure (unless you want that of course), the right camera for the look you're going for, the right focus. Everything is a choice and you have to make it right.


Film photography is my biggest frustration - yet somehow over last four years - without me even realising, its been my biggest teacher - its taught me to slow down, to really think about what I want and to make the right decisions to get that result I want. It's easy to think that these lesson don't apply to other things, but its often when I'm the most frustrated and upset - when I force myself to take photos I know wouldn't work just to finish a roll or just to develop something, anything - that I take the duds and really they are just as important to look at as the great photos because if you don't make mistakes, then how will you learn and improve.