What’s a Film Purist to Do in This Digital World?

The most recent conversation I had was about being a purist in the world of film. We had an endless dialogue about what the real essence truly was.

I don’t really want to take a stand on this subject, but I do have a lot of experience and I’m aware of my preference. My background comes from extensive use of manual Nikon cameras and E-6 film (slide film). So, in that sense I am a purist when it comes to captivating the absolute best picture possible. I don’t think a negative does justice to a photograph. I like the look of pure positive film–it almost makes the image come alive. In fact, it is a living image, not a digital representation. This is beautiful.

Now, that being said, the advances in digital filmmaking are so amazing that I’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference once the image goes to print. But as I look at a slide and a digital image side by side, there’s absolutely no comparison to me–slide film wins every time. It pops!

Here’s the problem, and the reality, of today’s world. I can’t travel as easily with all my slide film and make it through airport scanners. I can’t carry around my film as conveniently and as easily as a digital camera with a few CF or SD cards. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had airport TSA agents open up my all slide film to inspect it. Yes, each and every canister opened up into the air! I don’t think I’ve ever been hassled with my digital camera, nor am I in danger of having my film exposed. And with digital, I can take as many photos as I want.

And then there enters the next problem….I get lazy! I can now take as many photos as I want and I don’t take my time setting up the shot as much as I used, I’m not getting the lighting as right (because I can photoshop), nor do I pay attention to the details that I used to with my manual camera and limited amount of film. And that makes me feel sad.

Digital quality has come a long way, but there is still no comparison to the way real film looks…it just looks alive. But in order to do a movie shoot it’s not as possible to carry all that film around and a cumbersome film camera. So I’m definitely a proponent of making sure to capture the story, rather than being a purist and not having any story at all. And just like my E-6 film, it’s getting very difficult to find processors for the film and negative cutters.

And such is life, things change, the world changes and with that change I can adapt or stand strong in my purest beliefs and not be able to see my project finished or for that matter, even started.

I choose to not be hindered by my purist beliefs, but instead to embrace the technology that we have and use it to get my stories out there. I hope all artists can find a way to get their visions into the world, and avoid the excuse of nostalgia.


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