“It’s so expensive” is one of the biggest constant complaints about film photography. But film photographers don’t consider that maybe they’re doing something wrong. Perhaps, the way that they shoot and the approach to film photography that they have shouldn’t be the same as they have with digital. Have you ever looked through the albums that your parents had? Have you noticed the quality of the images that they shot? I’m not talking about the technical stuff; I’m talking about the content in the frames.
In my office, I keep a photo album that my sister retrieved from our mother’s house. Mom was a terrible hoarder, and so much had been damaged by her. However, both my mom and dad never took photos all the time. They only ever brought out cameras during very special moments in our lives. Part of that could’ve been because of expenses, and yet another part could’ve been because of my mother’s technological incompetence. Nevertheless, there were photos of very important moments in both my sister’s life and my life.
And those are what I remember; I know for a fact that I haven’t shot film or even Instax in the same way all the time. Instead, I’ll shoot film and instax like it’s nothing. This is the wrong mentality for me to have. But if you’re a photographer that only shoots film, then that’s a different story.
If you’re a digital photographer that’s also a new film photographer, consider shooting film only when the moment precious moments arrive in life. And here are a bunch of questions to ask yourself:
- Is this a moment that I’d want to print and put into an album?
- Why haven’t I started a photo album?
- Will these moments really spark emotions out of me and others as we look at them?
- Why is this moment so important for me to capture?
- Will I miss the people in this album?
Here’s the crazier thing: so many photos live on our phones. New film photographers often don’t care about looking back at those photos ever until they’re gone. Because of this, we don’t think about photos with a lot of importance. Instead, they’re just disposable moments.
I’ve got an entire box of instant film prints in my desk drawer. Some of them I really like looking back at. Others, I can clearly tell, were part of a review that I was doing. The importance of the moments can surely be part of my reviews, but often they’re not. The box contains images of my sister and mother when I used to live with them. There are also moments from when I worked at a camera store. Still, too, there are photos of exes, models, and others. Lots of mental health advice says that I should get rid of those images, but I keep them because they’re important to me in some way or another.
Let’s think of it another way: if these photos were lost in a flood or a fire, how devastated would you be? Would you mourn the loss of the photos you shot? Would it haunt you for a long time?
If the answer is no, then you probably need to consider changing the way new film photographers shoot film. Film and Instax should really only be shot during the most important moments that really matter. Those are the moments you’ll intensely care about in over a decade. And hopefully, they’ll be the moments that still tug at your heart.