The Commodity of Digital Photography

As a film shooter, I rolled my own negatives and developed my own prints. It cost money to develop and shoot, and I counted my negatives sparingly. Thus, every single shot was planned carefully in my head, I crafted every detail, every angle, and every composition carefully. I remember a 15 year old me drawing detailed storyboards of my photographs and purposely walking the long way home after school so I could spend time planning compositions in my head. In those days, I really felt like I was going somewhere with my photography.

While I recognize that my technique and composition have a long way since switching from film photography to digital in 2007, my creative growth have been stymied by my uptake of digital photography. This fact has been nagging me in the back of my mind. There is no question that I was a better photographer when I shot on film.

Changsha Streets, China

When I switched over to film, I could shoot hundreds of images at no additional cost. I quickly grew custom to taking multiple shots of everything, sometimes before even thinking about the composition and reading the light accurately. All my previous constraints of cost and a finite number of images were lifted. I was shooting uninhibited. I was shooting unstructured. When I only had a defined number of shots, I wanted every single shot to be amazing. When I could photograph thousands of images, I no longer cared for each and every one of them. Images became a commodity and I had a lot of it.

I believe I would have grown much more as a photographer if I had put as much effort into every image as I did when I was photographing on film. I want to go back to the photographer I was when I was a film shooter. I want to appreciate every shot and put 100% effort into every image again. I want to spend time, be careful, and invest myself.

In 2013, I want to be that 15 year old who takes the long way home again.

Avatar Mountains, China
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