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Review | Film Is Not Dead


I have to start this by admitting that I am and have been a digital photographer since the very early days of my photography career.  The speed at which the Air Force demanded things be completed made digital cameras perfect for the job we were tasked for.  Fortunately, my first several months of photography training in the military was spent with my eye in the viewfinder of a Nikon F3, in a darkroom and shaking canisters full chemicals and b&w film.  This definitely left a lasting impression!

Until recently, I hadn’t touched a film camera.  Thankfully, that all changed recently when my mom gave me her Fujica ST701 and several lenses.  I can still remember being a kid and sneaking into my mom’s room to play with it.  Wind the film, focus the split prism viewfinder, pray that there wasn’t film in it so I wouldn’t get caught.  Well, even if I did get caught, that camera was so cool to me that it would have been worth it.

Being given the camera from my childhood intrigued me so much!  I couldn’t get film out of my head!  Why does it look so much better?  Why is it so much more exciting to wait for film to be processed than to have the instant gratification of digital?  Why do some of my favorite photographers still shoot film in an age where digital seems to rule and technology moves along too quickly to keep up?  Why could I not help buying Patience a Hasselblad 500CM?  Where can I go to answer all of my questions?

Thankfully there are tons of resources!  None of which are better than Jonathan Canlas and his new book release, Film Is Not Dead: A Digital Photographer’s Guide to Shooting Film.

This book is AWESOME and apparently, it’s meant just for me…  A Digital Photographer’s Guide to Shooting Film.

There is so much great information covered.  Why to shoot film, different types of film and their characteristics, how to properly expose different types of film, the different types of cameras and what makes them unique and so much more!  If Jonathan Canlas can’t convince you to shoot film, I don’t know who can.

His chapter on personal projects is something that I definitely needed to read.  Sometimes I feel like I can get into a bit of a rut and feel like I am constantly shooting the same things in the same way every time I pick up my camera.  This chapter made me realize that it’s okay to pick up my camera just for me sometimes.  That I should look at things in a way nobody else is looking at.  That there is always a  photographic moment around you no matter where you are and when you’re there.  That the more I shoot for myself, the more I will improve and the more my customers will benefit.  I think that’s the key to this whole business.  Love what you do and it will come out in every photo you take no matter if it’s for yourself or someone who is paying you.  Inspiring stuff!

My favorite part of Film Is Not Dead: A Digital Photographer’s Guide to Shooting Film is the chapter on Project Children’s Miracle Network.  This chapter really touched my heart!  After going through a similar but far less dangerous situation with my daughter when she was born I have always felt like I need to do something to say thank you for the wonderful care that we received at Children’s Hospital in Seattle.  I always donate the dollar to the cashier when I’m buying my groceries but it never feels like it’s enough.  It’s pretty clear to me now that as photographers we have something great to offer people.  Something that will bring a lot of joy to people when they look at the photos we take for them.  Something that will bring a lot of joy to our lives as well.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in film photography.  Jonathan Canlas provides great step by step instructions in a way that feels like he is teaching you face to face rather than reading a book.  Just be careful, before you know it you might dig out your film camera from the closet and replace it’s empty spot with your brand new digital.  Is that a bad thing?  I think not.

Make sure to check out Jonathan Canlas’ FIND workshops.  I hope he comes back to the Northwest in 2013!  I will do everything I can to attend!

The following photos are with my Fujica ST701 with Fuji Pro400H processed through a local photo lab.  The next rolls are about to be sent to Richard Photo Lab.

Thanks for reading – Joe Thompson


1 comment
  • Joysha7.17.12 - 3:49 am

    I don’t think film will ever die. My film cameras can collect dust but I know that I can always pick it up and load a roll of film, confident that it will never go obsolete 🙂