BY: LIZ PEKLER
These days, people capture their memories mostly using a smartphone or some other digital camera. We live in a world where convenience is king, and nothing is more convenient than having a camera that can take nearly an unlimited amount of pictures and then make these pictures more aesthetically pleasing simply by adding a filter or two. Not to mention that you can instantly share all your selfies and #foodporn shots on social media, with the tap of your finger.
The sad reality is that we have all grown accustomed to documenting our everyday lives with smartphones. Some of us even take it to an alarmingly excessive extent. But don’t get me wrong—there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to document your daily activities. The only problem is that the smartphone and social media culture that our generation has fully embraced in recent years comes with one glaring drawback: it interferes with our ability to truly experience life.
Remember those days when all we had at our disposal was the humble film camera? It definitely wasn’t as convenient as any of the digital cameras today. You had to buy film to use the camera, which meant you only got a limited number of pictures. There was no LCD display screen—you just clicked the shutter button and hoped for the best. And the worst part, particularly for today’s impatient generation, was the absence of instant gratification. You had to have the film developed and the pictures printed before you could enjoy those snapshots you took at your friend’s wedding, or the picturesque photos from your travels.
Still, there’s something to be said about using film. Documenting your life with a film camera probably seems like a novel idea now, but if you really think about it, film has certain advantages that make it a much better way to capture and preserve your life’s memories. First of all, it alleviates the intense need to photograph anything and everything, which means you actually get to experience what’s going on in your life. You get to interact more with people instead of constantly having your eyes glued to your smartphone, and your smartphone glued to your hand. It allows you to live in the moment—to be fully present.
Another advantage to using a film camera is that it makes the photos you take all the more memorable. You only have a handful of shots to work with, so you really have to be selective when choosing what you want to take photos of, making each photo much more significant. Unlike with smartphones and DSLR cameras, you can’t just randomly take photos of everything. You actually have to take a moment to choose which memory you want to preserve. You end up photographing only the things that matter most to you.
Documenting your life with a film camera also makes your memories more tangible. Rather than being preserved in a digital file that may one day get lost in the annals of your hard drive, your memories are preserved on film—a medium that is far more fragile but ultimately more tangible. Film makes your memories feel real and organic. And unlike digital, shooting with film makes printing your pictures seem more of a necessity than a luxury, which means you get to have physical copies of your life’s most important memories.
Finally, using film will help you appreciate photography as a true art form. Film photography is a lot less flexible and automated than its digital counterpart, which is why film enthusiasts really need to put in the effort to learn more about the craft if they want to produce beautiful pictures. Depending on what you hope to get out of shooting with film, this may or may not be important to you. But at the end of the day, it is still beneficial as using film ultimately forces you to develop and hone your photography skills.
Film photography certainly isn’t for everyone. In a world where everyone wants to share their memories online, it may not be the best solution. We spend most of our lives on our phones and on social media, and taking pictures with film definitely won’t be as convenient. But for people who want to truly experience life and, best of all, be liberated from the constant need to document every insignificant little thing, preserving memories with film is really the best and most meaningful way to go.