I’m often asked, if you shoot on film, how do I get my images? I explain that I scan the negatives and edit the files digitally. Next the photos are uploaded to my website where they can be viewed and downloaded as if they had been shot with a digital camera.
“Isn’t that cheating?”
You see, there’s no rule stating that if you shoot on film, the image can never be digitized.
In fact, Photoshop was invented to edit film photos and the vast majority of photographs that first appeared on the internet were shot on film. Many early digital imaging devices were actually created to digitize film.
I think it’s cool that some film photographers continue to keep computers out of their 100% analog workflow. But I also think it’s cool that we live in a time when I can take photographs with a 90 year old camera and circulate them around the globe within hours of shooting, thereby extending the usefulness of technology that, by many contemporary measures, should be completely obsolete.
You don’t have to be a luddite to enjoy film photography. And you don’t have to be a technocrat to enjoy digital technology. In my opinion, mixing digital and film can offer unique workflows and means of expression that push the limits of both, seemingly rival technologies.
For example, when I exhibit or sell prints, or even just make some family keepsakes, I send my digital files out to be printed on traditional silver gelatin paper. So it’s analog. To digital. To analog again.
Digital Silver Imaging in Boston uses a laser enlarger to project digital files onto conventional light-sensitive paper that is then chemically developed and fixed just like darkroom prints. Probably many of their clients shoot on film. But you can of course make true b&w, analog prints from files that were sourced from a digital camera too.
If you’re wondering how to make color analog prints from digital files, Supersense in Austria has you covered! Send them your digital file and they will use a century-old wood and brass bellows camera to expose your photo on an 8×10 or massive 20×24 sheet of Polaroid instant film.
Gamma Tech in New Mexico will even make film negatives of your digital files for archival purposes. As I understand it, many digital properties at the Library of Congress are treated to this form of archive.
If these methods of reverting digital to film seem a little abstract or exotic, check out the Fuji Instax Share SP-3 (for Instax Square) and SP-2 (for Instax Mini) as well as Link (for Instax Wide) printers. Connect one of these devices to your smartphone via Bluetooth and print off instant film copies of your favorite cell phone snaps… or favorite comedian
So look, if you thought that film and digital photography were bi-polar opposites, enemies at birth, totally incompatible ways of seeing and doing things, it’s time to call in the troops and put that war to bed. Digital and film can shake hands and life each other up to create something new and special.
Thanks for reading and happy shooting!
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