Bring film photography back


CANON AE-1. (Emma Barbernell)

Emma Barbernell | Writer & Photographer

March 12, 2024

Film: capturing life. Why is film so important on a creative scale? As someone who loves shooting on film, I am here to explain my reasoning on why I believe film to be such a beacon to grow your creativity and learn. I recommend film to anyone who asks me about photography because it is a practice that is unique and allows you to get to know your camera.

Although digital photography is easier because it’s more mainstream and allows you to use auto settings, film encourages you to be much more mindful of your shot and aware of the lighting and surroundings. In a roll of film, there are only 36-38 photos. With that, programming your shutter speed, aperture, and iso is a practice that must be perfected. Beginners of photography learn the basics of a camera with film and it brings you back to the manual settings.

ULTRAMAX 400. (Finn Thomas)

Junior Finn Thomas agreed and stated, “Shooting film forces you to nail your settings and composition first try. It’s not like shooting digital because there are no throwaway shots.” Finn is an ASB photographer and shoots both digital and film photography.

Although the film is expensive, each roll of film you purchase keeps small businesses alive and continues film production. Film allows you to experiment with each roll of film and is a way to connect to your camera. Digital photographers often spend hours editing their photos to replicate the raw beauty of film. If you’re looking to start on film, some rolls I recommend are Portra 400 or 800, Kodak Gold, Il Ford B&W, and Cinestill 800 for nighttime shoots. I buy my film from Reformed Film Lab because they always have discounts. For development, our local film lab: Dark Room in San Clemente has a wonderful staff and is very efficient and fairly priced.

If you’re looking into investing in a film camera, some brands I recommend are Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Minolta, and Olympus. Depending on whether you are looking for a manual or point-and-shoot camera, all of these brands have wonderful selections. You can find film cameras online (eBay), estate sales, and thrift stores. My manual film camera, the Canon AE-1 is a classic camera that I fell in love shooting film on. Depending on your skill level, they have a program version that allows beginners to use a full automatic scope. For more affordable options, point-and-shoot cameras are great for beginners and on a cheaper scale.

To learn the ins and outs of your camera, YouTube has free videos to learn from. There are also apps like Light Meter and Photo Light & Exposure Meter that measure your surroundings light and tell you the settings to input into your camera.

After I developed my first roll of film from a disposable camera, I absolutely fell in love with the art of film. Skip disposable cameras and switch to a more environment-friendly option like a real camera. I invested in mine and have been working on my creative journey ever since. I want to spread the joy and community film brings. There is nothing like getting your film back, and then seeing your memories and being able to share them. Senior, Sam Ferguson, shared with me that he loved “the process of taking film pictures and being surprised later on.”

Skip the digital camera or phone and opt for film. Don’t let photos get lost.

About Emma Barbernell 10 Articles
Emma Barbernell is a junior and first year newspaper photographer and writer at SCHS. She prides herself in being a thrift master and spends her time dirtying her hands in the Goodwill bins. On an off day you might catch her looking like Adam Sandler, or if you're lucky an off duty model. You can also find her low balling questionable resellers at any of the local flea markets. When she's not getting deals you can find her long boarding at San-O, rock climbing, collecting vinyl, cooking, arguing with her parents, lifting, hammocking with her dog, and learning guitar from Lindsay Coulson. After high school, she plans to see the world and take pictures while doing it.

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