A world of zeros and ones
The cameras I used and use have ranged from small format to large format, modern to vintage, automatic to manual. But the ones I enjoy the most—and the ones I return to — invariably shoot film. These are not necessarily the same cameras that have given me my favorite photographs, or the best images. They have done more than that: in some small way, they have stirred my soul.
This may sound melodramatic, but when you look at it objectively, it’s easy to see why. At a fundamental level, digital photography is a world of zeros and ones: on and off: yes and no; right and wrong. Because of this, it removes all doubt in a shot and excludes the possibility of a happy accident.
For many people, this is cause enough to abandon film and embrace digital capture totality. Who can blame them? It is impossible to deny that today’s digital cameras are anything other than phenomenally functional tools. Here lies their profound soullessness. A digital camera Is a cold, robotic eye capable of pixel-perfect precision. With every click of the shutter, the images it produces are virtually indestructible. Like a virus, they can be transmitted from one device to another. An unlimited army of perfect replicas.
By comparison, shooting film is much more intense and emotive. The cameras themselves often have more quirks, demanding higher concentration. Film itself is far more delicate. What can happen? Light can leak and fog your frames; chemical processes can go awry; it can and will attract dust and scratches - and so the list goes on. We also have to pay more considerable attention to what we are photographing, as every time we open the shutter, there is an immediate financial cost.