I’ve been a professional photographer for over 10 years. I love photography more than I can even describe, but I’ve been in a creative funk for a long time. I’ve been not feeling inspired and not motivated to make art. I stopped taking my camera everywhere, relying more on my phone to capture memories, and not feeling creatively fulfilled. (Does that make me sound pretentious? It does, doesn’t it?)
When you are a creative person, you need to use your creative muscles on the regular or they will atrophy just like a muscle in your body will. When I am feeling this way, the fastest way out of it is for me to take a class or workshop. I recently stumbled upon Joyce Kang’s workshop called Embrace the Grain. It is a workshop for people that shoot digital interested in shooting film. (I took film photography classes years and years ago in college and didn’t remember anything other than I loved it.) I bought a cheap film camera on eBay, a light meter, a couple rolls of film and figured the worst that could happen would be that the camera would become a shelf decoration.
Confession – I take a lot of online classes with the best of intentions. I promise myself that I will see it through to the end and either I get bored, or life gets in the way. But this class – I didn’t miss a lesson – I did every homework assignment – and participated fully. Not because I am an overachiever, but because I was completely engrossed and invested in the process. I fell head over heels in love with photography again. When my first roll of film came back from the lab, I couldn’t take my eyes off of what I captured. I felt connected to my images in a way that I have not felt in a long time.
(This is not sponsored or endorsed in any way, I’m just sharing because I loved it so much.)
The beauty of shooting film is that you are forced to slow down. You need to envision the shot that you want and think about how to best achieve it. You can’t look on the back of the camera and see if you need to change a setting or two, you have to see it in your mind and trust yourself. It is such a different approach than when you shoot digital.
After I shot a few rolls, I packaged them up and shipped them to a lab to be processed and scanned. A few days later, I got my files back and when I opened them I remembered what got me into photography in the first place. Being able to have a way to capture the love for the people and the beautiful things in my life. The images in this post are not edited in any way. When you shoot film, you don’t have to spend any time in Photoshop or Lightroom. (Unless you want to.)
When I shoot film, I feel more in the moment. I’m not leafing through images to see what I got, I’m not editing them to share when on social media. I’m present and able to really be there with my family and feel a part of what is going on.
Is shooting film more expensive? Yes. But when I think about how much time I’ve gotten back, it is something that I happily will budget for.
Is shooting film addictive? Yup. No doubt. I’ve added a few more cameras to my collection and have dabbled in some different film stocks.
Is shooting film helping me feel creative again? Absolutely. It has carried over to other areas of my life too. The funk I was in is gone.
Is shooting film introducing me to new people and other inspiring artists? Yes. I’ve met so many incredible film shooters, and they are so willing to share their knowledge and help others become as obsessed as they are.
When I look at my pictures caught on film, I don’t see the imperfections like I do when I shoot digital. A softer focus, a not perfect exposure, or a funny face from one of my kids. Either it doesn’t bother me enough, or it is exactly what I’ve been missing from my photography for a long time.
If you are feeling in a creative funk, I can’t encourage you enough to push yourself and try something new. It might just be exactly what you need.