“Firewater, Todos Santos, Baja California, 2002″ Kodak e100vs
Not so long ago, a fellow photographer friend sent me a link to an interesting story on Salon.com about the demise of film, in particular Kodachrome one of my favorite color emulsions. I thought the author’s assessment was pretty spot on, and the last paragraph especially resonated with me:
“To shoot a roll of film was to take a leap of faith. The digital evolution has eliminated a lot of uncertainty from the process, and that’s probably a net gain — especially if you’re an amateur shutterbug. Unfortunately, some other wonderful elements have disappeared as well: mystery, poetry and the element of chance.”
The ongoing debate of film vs. digital and what looks better is a personal preference, but what made this article interesting is that it made me think about my overall approach to taking photos. I don’t plan on going digital and I don’t think film will disappear entirely, but if I did, how would it change the process, in particular for situations like the preceding photograph?
I was hanging at a beach-side hotel with family at sunset, when all of a sudden the ocean and sky turned bright red. I ran down to the water to take a few shots, panning one or two to create a look of movement. I finished the roll, then put it away forgetting about it until a week or so later when I got home and had it processed. When I got the film back, most of the shots were ordinary, but this one really stood out, far exceeding my expectations.
Now, if I had used a digital camera, I could have shot away until I saw that I had something decent, and probably had more versions of the scene. But I fear that knowing my results before the colors of sunset had faded would have removed all mystery, poetry and any element of chance, and I would have lost what attracted me to photography in the first place.