Why We (Still) Shoot Film

In this world of two-minute passport photos, eye-fi memory cards, and wireless image transfers, it’s hard to imagine a bunch of people engaged in doing something that seems like a pursuit from the last century. For us digital photographers, film photography is well and truly dead (or so we are inclined to think). For the most part, no one with a digital camera would give this a second thought. But there are still photographers out there who feel just as passionate about shooting on film, as did the pioneers of film photography during the late 1800s and the early 1900s:

Amrit Vatsa, on a tip from his partner, decided to make a story on a curious bunch of photographers who run the GOA Center for Alternative Photography. In less intimidating terms, they run a community darkroom and experiment with many different types of negative processing techniques.

film photography

Why are some photographers clinging to film?

When asked why they are doing what they are doing when most photographers have made the switch to digital, Edson Dias, one of the brains behind this endeavor based in Calangute, Goa said,

“I love processing, I love printing, I love the darkroom and that’s why I have not gone digital because it does not give me that high. I love the smell of chemicals.”

Dias’s obsession with film photography does not seem to be limited to the process itself. He seems to enjoy the fact that a photograph is a physical object, obviously referring to the intangibility of a digital file.

On why he does not consider digital photography to be photography, Dias explained, comparing painting on canvas with painting on an iPad.

“People use acrylics, they use watercolors whatever, and now we have iPads. We can even paint on an iPad and print out on canvas. But is that a painting?”

Vatsa’s own take is this:

“The moment you consider photography as art, digital and film simply become two different visual means of expression. One is not better than the other. Just because you can print a digital picture from a printer does not mean you need to stop using chemicals to process a film. Just because you can paint and print from an iPad, does not mean that you need to stop painting on canvas. The problem is when one simply forgets the canvas. The problem is when an art form starts dying.”

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