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


10 responses to “The Commodity of Digital Photography

  1. I truly understand how you feel. I went through this same thing when I switched to digital several years ago. What I missed most was when I developed my prints and had an element of surprise. There’s something about the anticipation of seeing an image that you’ve worked hard to plan out and create, to see it come out perfectly when you develop the prints. It provided a great sense of accomplishment. I, too, am still working on ways to slow down and bring more elements to my digital photography from my film experiences. Good luck to you!

  2. I also understand how you feel! Although I didn’t shoot film as intensely as you did, I find myself wishing I had thought about it more back then. My cousins are really into film photography and they are so amazing at it that I feel like I suck most of the time. The reason: digital is almost too easy sometimes. Having that nearly-unlimited space can push the thoughtful aspect of photography to the back of our minds, instead of the forefront.

  3. MMmm er actually I always shot as many exposures as I felt like doing – if I wanted a hundred I took a hundred – facilitated not by unlimited funds but by a boxful of old film cans, a bulk film loader and careful sourcing of nearly out of date film. (Of and a converted loft! What I really miss from film is my OM4 – somehow still feels more like a camera than anything digital. I loved the processing and the time it took. I’ve only got close to this once or twice with digital. I click on things in photoshop and I don’t really know what I’m doing but it looks good! No its the OM4 and the crystal clear view through the viewfinder and a 24mm lens and the mechanical essence of it I hanker for. When will someone create a digital adapter for real cameras? One which you have to remove in darkness and soak in water to get the files off? Good Times!

  4. Pingback: Brooklyn Bridge in Black and White | Just-In-Time Travels·

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s