I bought my first digital camera in 2004 during a brief visit to Japan. Compared to my film cameras, it was light, pocket-able, and a great travel companion. It was an uneasy purchase not so much because it was a move into the 21st century where everything was going digital, but the fact that it made photography so much more about pointing and shooting rather than taking the time to absorb the environment around me and composing the shot. A lot has changed in 10 years, and the world has moved onto fast shooting and even faster sharing of digital images.
Digital has definitely made things easier in terms of taking, organizing, and sharing photos. Yet, the thing that is still missing after all this time is the process of photography… and how much value there is in taking the time to not only take the photo, but also wait for the images to develop.
I went to a camera store last week and talked to the shop keeper about film vs. digital. He was also on the fence because while the resolution of digital cameras (especially the high-end DSLRs) have surpassed film, there’s still “something” missing from digital images. I asked him what… he said “texture”. It’s difficult to explain in words but when I compare film and digital photos, there is a something different in film images… it’s like there’s a soul or life to these images. This post has images developed from the first roll of film I took in 5 years. Do you see the “texture”?
There are plenty of ways to alter digital images to have the same look and feel as film images, but if it’s to sit in front of the computer to do the alterations, it just defeats the purpose of the process of taking photos and being a part of life (go watch The Secret Life of Walter Mitty). Maybe that’s why there’s a return to film photography – just look at what Lomo is doing.