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Film or Digital? Don’t Choose!

Contax 139Q with 45mm f/2.8 on Howard St. in San Francisco. TFP014

Photographers can be black and white about certain subjects. They make decisions about camera brands, post processing software, lenses… and that is that.

One area where I think an exception is in order is with choosing between analog or digital. There was a time when we all shot film. We had to, there weren’t any pixels available. So film had to be everything to us: our work, art, and hobby.

We would debate about negs or slides, format, and of course cameras and lenses. But in the end were were all dealing with silver crystals and celluloid.

Then digital crashed the party. At first, it was an unwelcome guest. I can still remember letters to the editor in Popular Photography about the frivolity of digital imaging, and how it will never compare to film. Little did we know.

And in time, the tables tuned. Today, I know many photographers who never shot film. Their craft evolved solely during the digital age. Yet analog has persisted, and even gained momentum in recent years.

Why? Because we no longer have to choose between the two. If you look at the reader comments on theAnalogstory.com, you’ll see that people aren’t bashing digital; they’re embracing film as a creative alternative.

We can still use our digital cameras for commercial work, online posting, sharing, printing, and any other aspect of photography that you can think of. No one is giving it up (well, I guess there are always a few…). I’m not, anyway.

Personally, I shoot digital about 70 percent of the time. I like it. And I enjoy the workflows and tools that support my work. But sometimes, I leave the house with just an iPhone in my pocket and a 35mm camera over my shoulder. And to be honest, those are my favorite moments as a photographer these days.

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Analog photography will never rule the kingdom again. It doesn’t have to. Instead, it will have a long, creative life as the other format. And as such, provide great pleasure to a new generation of visual artists.

Want to get up to speed with analog photography? Take a look at The Film Photography Handbook by Chris Marquardt and Monika Andrae.

Top Photo: “Tree Shadow on Wall” – Contax 139Q with Zeiss Tessar 45mm f/2.8 lens, Fujifilm 400 PRO color negative film. Picture and article by Derrick Story.

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