3 Ways Film Changed My Life


“Gorgonic” -by Phillipe Han

Shoot, chimp, shoot, chimp, switch to macro mode, shoot shoot, chimp. This used to be my routine as I emptied out my 8GB memory card on my Fujifilm X100. I thought I couldn’t be happier– I was wrong. Maybe I could be happier.

One uncontented day I came across Eric Kim’s blog post on why you should shoot street photography in film. I went through the list and then convinced myself that I needed to get myself a film camera.

After trading away my X100 for a Leica M6, I was overwhelmed. I won’t make the story longer than it should be.

1. Film made me realize how scarce a true “decisive moment” is.

Us digital shutterbugs are used to shooting away, with an unlimited roll as far as the Gigabytes can see. But after countless hours tiring myself on Lightroom, I realized something– I take way too many useless and unfeeling photos.

Photos of people walking on the street.

Meaningless juxtapositions of billboards next to people.

Cold, unmeaningful, stale stares.

With only 36 exposures per film (and, let’s face it, most of us aren’t diligent enough to carry around a Bikkuri Fujifilm Film case), you’re limited to what’s left on the film, usually less than 36.

As trite as this may sound, this forced me to look at the world from a different perspective. It made me more daring, forcing me to think, “I have to get that shot”, whereas I would have taken at least 50 different pictures to get to the same shot with my DSLR or Fujifilm X100.

This means framing without the cropping. That’s it.

2. Film processing is obscenely expensive.

At least in America. Maybe one day I’ll dare to develop my own photos.

3. Film photography is beautiful precisely because you make mistakes shooting.

Before some of the nice folks on Eric Kim’s facebook page pointed me to the ISO 1600 setting, I experimented with different ISO’s because I literally didn’t know what ISO I had to be shooting at. I tried the Sunny 16 rule (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunny_16) on my DSLR and I realized it was a rule of thumb that allowed reasonable exposures– not excellent ones. I didn’t know what shutter speeds were the “right” speeds to shoot at, so I ended up horribly underexposing my photos, or overflooding them with too much light.

But it was beautiful.

I will upload them later, but I realized that DSLRs try to meter exactly what the “correct” exposure is for each photo.

Photographs, while sometimes better with a perfect exposure (think– studio, or portraits), benefit from the human touch– the imperfection that makes us wonder what’s wrong with the photo.

Look at this photo from Linda Stokes, a photographer from my G+ network:

“February 18th, 2012” -by Linda Stokes

(Source: https://plus.google.com/photos/109501436364165187027/albums/5710684596314086593)

Maybe the exposure was intentional, maybe it wasn’t. But one thing for sure is that if you had aimed a DSLR at that crane, it would’ve thrown flash at the crane, making for an ugly, “correctly” exposed photo. The way this shadow was executed, with a bit of thinking, made it a piece more poignant and worth much brooding over.

Back in 2009, I used to shoot at f/1.4 only, being a newbie to the DSLR world. I shot this photo below in Barcelona, but only after accidentally flipping the shutter speed from 1/320 to 1/1000:


“One Day in Barcelona” -by Phillipe Han

The result was that it didn’t capture as much of the colors as I had intended, but I liked it. This moment, as trivial as it sounds, remains an important very dear to my shutterbug heart.

Lesson learned: let’s keep a human touch to all we shoot, even behind the cold wiring of an LCD.

Maybe I’m wrong, maybe not.


This blog won’t be a simple “how to” or “Shoot X in 10 steps” blog. I won’t pretend to know everything about photography, because I’m far from it and still learning. But I will share my honest, down-to-earth opinions. I want to meet and talk with as many other people as possible, so talk to me.

How did film change your life?


Talk to me on Twitter @phantasyphoto.

Invite me to G+ Hangouts.

Critique my work on 500px.

Agree to disagree with me in this blog.

Thanks for reading, now let me go develop some film.


8 thoughts on “3 Ways Film Changed My Life

  1. fckinfcker

    Kudos to your epiphany as a photographer. Although DSLRs might be more convenient, I am sure developing photos will one way or another develop yourself as a photographer as you treat each photos as a work of art. Wholeheartedly agree with your idea: imperfection is inherent and is indeed what makes us human. Imperfection and “human touch” leads to originality and I believe it is fundamental to any artwork. Keep it up!

  2. I am extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Anyway keep up the excellent quality writing, it is rare to see a great blog like this one today..

  3. ‘Thank you for this blog. That’s all I can say. You most definitely have made this blog into something thats eye opening and important. You clearly know so much about the subject, youve covered so many bases. Great stuff from this part of the internet. Again, thank you for this blog.”

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