Film Used to Cost a Lot (Day 6 of 31)
Are you a digital native with photography, or do you remember film? I was a film diehard for a long time, making the switch only around 2006. Film was getting harder to buy, harder to have developed, and just generally more of a hassle. I was pretty sure I’d dislike shooting digital, though, so I’d held out for a long time.
Well, this was another lesson learned about the fallacy of predictions. I loved my digital camera. The difference in the tones of the print, which I was sure would bother me, didn’t seem like an issue. There were slight differences, but they were minimal.
And the cost per shot! These things were basically free! Sure, printing was still an expense, but you could take photos and view them for nothing. I felt I’d been set loose on the world with unlimited resources. The first eight months I had my first digital camera, I took 10,000 photos—around 40 per day. A few years later, I was up to 100 per day, or more.
But in the past year or two something has changed for me. I’m not tired of taking pictures; far from it. But I remember how much more thoughtful I had to be when every single shot represented an expense that was coming out of my wallet. (For those of you who don’t remember the days of film, it used to cost around $4 a roll, with developing and contact sheets or proofs on top of that.) Paying for it had kept me careful. Back in the 1980s, I always had to weigh my priorities, use my judgement, consider the shot before I pressed the shutter.
Do I think the extravagance of the past few years has been somehow bad for me? Like a moral failing, a photographic gluttony? No. I feel that I sharpened a lot of my skills during these years of easy photos, of taking hundreds of photos a day. It’s been great for me. I just find that I’ve moved into a different phase.
These things come upon us without our planning them. An interest or compulsion ebbs, or something inside you shifts. I’m reaching a point where what feels right for me now is to take fewer photos, more judiciously. It’s quite possible I might even return to shooting film.
Don’t you love the ways we surprise ourselves? You can think you know yourself so well, and then you learn something new.
(For the month of October 2017, I’m participating in the 31 Days bloggers’ challenge. You can find out about it here, and check out the interesting work other bloggers are posting.)