I bought my first digital SLR back in 2008 after receiving a college grant. At the time it seemed that I was being irresponsible with a hearty dose of cash, but it proved to be a worthy investment. Something about having a "big girl camera" draws in the people who want the "big kid shots." Thank goodness for those people or I probably never would have gone into business. For editing Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.0 was my best friend, and after the 30 day free trial I was sold. It was and still is my primary editing tool.
There I was with my little big girl camera and my handy editing program. I studied and read and researched. I googled techniques and browsed forums for more knowledge. Then I would shoot, knowing so much more than I used to but at the same time knowing practically nothing. After the shoot, I would come home and jump on in to immediately conquer my images. The world of digital photography was that of instant gratification to me. Shoot, upload, edit. That was my life, and oh how satisfying it was.
I have had this longing lately for something a little more. At times I would come across images that factor. The color, the depth, the feel was like nothing else I had ever seen. Not only that, but the people, for some reason, just looked different. Surely, I thought, my top of the line equipment (I'm referring to my Canon 5D Mk II, not my first "big girl camera") will give me that high quality. Or surely, it was in my editing, and I simply needed to improve in that area. Then one day, perhaps by accident, I found it. The "look" I was wanting, and the "quality" I was seeking could only be found in film. Beautiful, deep, rich film.
Really? Film? How could this be? But how do you know you're getting a good picture? And isn't that a lower quality than digital? And isn't it risky? In a world of pixels, sensors, and memory cards I was astounded.
So here begins the experimenting. Coupled with my father's old 35mm Canon FTb and the lightest knowledge about film, I decided to buy a high quality roll and see what would happen. Would my pictures look like that of Elizabeth Messina? Would they have that Jose Villa luster? Would I fall in love, be ruined, and be forced to leave everything I knew for something greater, dying to the modern way? Maybe. It was a risk I was willing to take if it meant better images.
I know, this sounds really dramatic.
"Oh my word, Emma. Life crisis." (Cue eye roll from readers)
Hang in there with me.
With that camera, and that roll, I sporadically shot over the past several months---with the earliest being this past fall. I might have even had the roll for almost a year. It made for a terrifying moment, walking into Walgreen's (as per Jonathan Canlas' suggestion in Film is Not Dead), not knowing what embarrassing things were hiding in the little plastic canister. I held my breath and knew that if all else failed there was always another Walgreens in town.
One grueling hour later, my images were returned. With prints and a disk, I was giddy to whip them out and take a glance. There were moments that I had completely forgotten, and details that I looked back on with so much happiness. And yes, there were some images that explained the look behind the eyes of the fellow who developed the film. Poor guy. They weren't so bad that I couldn't return, but they might be grounds for blushing next time I come in. While they're not entirely inappropriate, I'll keep them to myself. Sorry to be painfully mysterious.
While the clarity didn't even come close to that of a Contax 645 or a Mamiya 645 Pro TL---there was something behind the images. It was a patience, a peace, and a sense of forever. Somehow, in a way I can't explain, there was just more.
Even my husband seemed just a little more true. Why these qualities are here obviously aren't from the film alone. They're from the way it slows me down and let's me be in the moment. I don't have 20 chances to get the shot or a screen to look at to make sure it came out just right. I just have to be present in the moment, and I have to wait. The way that I feel so much more connected in these photos shows my how much I have been disconnected in others. Oddly enough, people tend to remark about how much my clients look at ease in my images so "disconnection" isn't exactly an issue for me.
As much as there are insurmountable positives to shooting film there are a host of negatives. While I can't say that I will be making the switch and abandoning the digital world, I can't say it won't happen either. Discovery is a beautiful thing, and I can't wait to share more adventures in film with you in the future. Thanks for listening, and I hope you all have a happy Wednesday. :)
Interested in booking a session with Rose Wheat Photography?
This fall Emma will be relocating to the Destin, Florida area.
Be sure to book a session before October!
Living in Florida? Pre-book before she arrives!
No where near Kansas or Florida? Emma would LOVE to travel to your destination!