That the “modern print” started on a crude metal plate nearly 200 years ago, and then within 60 years became the flexible negative developed by George Eastman is fascinating to me. The function of film in creating a negative and then making a print in a darkroom is magical.

Posted on May 04, 2014

Why Do I Love Film?

That the “modern print” started on a crude metal plate nearly 200 years ago, and then within 60 years became the flexible negative developed by George Eastman is fascinating to me. The function of film in creating a negative and then making a print in a darkroom is magical.


Film has an inspiring beauty all its own. By merely selecting the right film, the photographer can produce images of subjects with beautiful creamy skin tones, or create stunning landscapes with rich color saturation. Or maybe the photographer’s goal is to provoke the audience with images of turmoil by using a film that provides deep shadows and contrast which parallel the environmental nature of the subject. Whatever the choice, the discerning photographer is able to produce images that represent the aesthetic and beauty of film.

The chronological development of film and the print is a topic on which whole text books have been written. What moves me is the richness of the history.

Pine grove, Oregon -- Black and white infrared film
Pine grove, Oregon -- Black and white infrared film

My creative inspiration comes from the selection of that particular film and the presence of it in the camera. I first pick the film I want to use based on the type of job, client or situation and then while I take pictures the presence of that particular film in my camera(s) influences my decisions for composition and subject matter. I am constantly inspired by my film choice throughout a session, and I may even skip taking a photo because I need to come back to it with a different film choice that better suits the subject matter. To me, it is a beautiful expression of artist, medium and equipment in a sort of dance that combined together produces the work of art.

History and function is my other inspiration and can be sub-categorized into two parts: chronological history and function of the medium, as well as the longevity and archival quality of film itself. The chronological development of film and the print is a topic on which whole text books have been written. What moves me is the richness of the history.

That the “modern print” started on a crude metal plate nearly 200 years ago, and then within 60 years became the flexible negative developed by George Eastman is fascinating to me. The function of film in creating a negative and then making a print in a darkroom is magical.

The photographer enjoys the experience of watching the image materialize on the photographic paper. While I do not currently have my own darkroom, it is still a magical process. Creating the images and then shipping the film to the lab cultivates that same level of patience needed in the darkroom. While I wait to see the results of my picture taking, I can be out shooting more images! How better to feed the artist photographer within? It truly is that simple for me.

I feel in some small way that I contribute to the multi-faceted history of film all because I capture an image. Then I send that film to my lab, and other hands become involved in that same magical process because they love film too. And, when you add the archival nature of film to the equation, then everything comes full circle.

As a photographer, I can create an aesthetically pleasing image through this magical photographic process that lasts for hundreds of years... and that is why I am truly inspired by film.

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