Grain is Not a Dirty Word

Photographers typically call an image “grainy” or “too grainy” like these words are inherently negative.  Just like they will say something is “tack sharp” as if this is an inherently positive attribute.  Is blue a bad color?  Is a line better than a circle?  Is “quality” only “low” and “high”?

These associations of traits with shallow, linear judgments is flat out stupid.  And it’s limiting to our work.

Look, we need to stop thinking like technicians and start thinking feeling like artists.  What does each element of an image SAY?  How does each element of an image contribute to the message or feeling we want to convey?

As I begin to burn through my first new rolls of Kodak TMAX P3200, I wanted to share some images I took some time ago using this film that might surprise some because I took them…


The grain is not a mistake, it’s not a compromise, it’s not a limit of the medium.  It’s not a digital shooter’s proof that film is dead.  It’s a deliberate choice that I feel contributes to my messaging.  I wanted to fill perfectly formed, texture-less smooth commercial, feminine shapes with silver particles, with sandpaper, with asphalt, with emotion.  I wanted to blur the line between graphics and objects/people by compressing them.

Grain is not a dirty word!  Film grain can and should be a deliberate element of our work, not an incidental one.

Thanks for reading!





*All images taken in the streets of New York City with my Nikon FE and Nikkor 85mm 1.8 AI’d on Kodak TMAX 3200 rated @ 3200 ISO

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5 thoughts on “Grain is Not a Dirty Word

  1. Painters have their Pointilists, ink has their Stipplers, and the airbrush has its spatter. Why in the world shouldn’t film have its grain? And, while we’re at it, when has any atrist’s medium been completely transparent or separate from the art it is used to create?

    Liked by 1 person

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