Surprising as it may still seem to some, there are still photographers who prefer the rigors of film photography, despite the prevalence of the more convenient digital workflow. This is especially the case for those who develop and print their own snaps and also shoot in more specialized mediums like large format. In his short film, director and cinematographer Will Campbell went to find out what keeps film shooters and large format photographers going despite the arduous processes involved in their chosen craft.
For his short film aptly titled PROCESS, Will tapped into the work and routine of veteran photographer Scott Folsom, following him around as he shot with a large format camera, developed his film, and made prints from his own negatives. “Scott Folsom is a deep well of wisdom and knowledge when it comes to analog photography, large format, and development processes,” Will wrote in the video’s description.”This film answers the question of why some people would rather have it slow.”
The short film shows Scott shooting and processing both medium and large format. The latter, he says, is more of a mindset about crafting and perfecting a single image than taking a lot of images. There’s a certain belief in the process that makes that happen, and it’s what drives photographers like him to take unwieldy cameras to scenic locations and take on the task of developing and printing their own film photos.
“A lot of the appeal for it to me is it’s incredibly slow; you can just be devoted to crafting this one image and be totally absorbed with the process,” he mused in Will’s film.
However, Scott also mentioned that there’s a lot of problem solving involved; if you try something and it works, that’s great. Otherwise, you move on and try something else. This sounds like a very tedious and strict way to take photographs, more so when you’re shooting large format. And yet, there are people like him who find joy in the process simply because it’s all about being in the moment to make sure you get that one, perfect shot.
So, who are the photographers that would benefit the most from film photography, or large format photography, even? Scott said that this immensely tactile workflow would be great for those who like to fiddle around with different tools. Those who find it fun to get involved in every painstaking step of their creation — including mixing your own developing chemicals and printing your own work.
“It’s a reward; it’s really worth all the work. But there are times when you put in a lot of work with this and a lot of stuff just doesn’t make it. It goes in the garbage. Every once in a while you get the gems; those go in the flat file drawer.”
Screenshot image from the short film by Will Campbell