In today’s digital world of instant results, film photography is slow. Painstakingly slow. You have to buy film, if you’re lucky enough to find it. Once obtained and loaded into your camera the realization that you only have 24 or 36 exposures, less if your shooting medium format, sets in. This restriction creates a sense of anxiety. The stress over getting the shot builds up so much, that you simply don’t hit the shutter at all. Once you do finally finish the roll of film, your faced with the task of finding somewhere to develop it, forking over your hard earned dollars to see just how bad you messed up. Perhaps your lucky and a photo lab still operates near you, if not your forced to mail it somewhere. Either way your certainly going to have to wait it out. Finally the day comes when you can pick up the roll from the lab, or it arrives in the mail. You sit down, collect your thoughts, pray to the film gods, and open the package…. Your greatest fears are realized, not a single shot turned out and you wasted a small fortune. Yep should have just used the digital camera, its so much easier that way.
Welcome to the world of film photography in the digital age, or so the (social)media would have you believe anyway. Its expensive, slow, and you hardly get the results your hoping for. Those who still choose to shoot film are lumped into three ‘neatly’ defined groups 1. Fine are photographers with skills are far and beyond anything you’ll every possess 2. Luddites 3. Hipsters. Each group equally despised for their own reasons. These preconceived notions of course are either flat out lies or so far from the truth they might as well be.
Is film photography expensive? yes, but so is digital if you get caught up by gear acquisition syndrome. GAS for short. Is it a hassle? Yes, but what hobby worth dabbling in isn’t? Is it slow? Define slow. Sure you might have to wait a bit longer to see your results. But we are talking hours here, or perhaps a few days to a week (Ok its a bit longer if you mail out your film), certainly not months or years.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be this way of course. Over the weekend I set out to disprove this notion. Disregarded much of my usual photographic processes to see just how fast I could find, shoot, develop, and share online a roll of film I shot. Saturday morning I walked down to my local drug store and picked up a cheap roll of generic film. Western Family brand Color 200 to be exact, costing me just shy of 5 dollars. With my trusty Pentax K1000 in hand, I loaded the film, and walked a mere 5 blocks to a park near my apartment, and proceeded to expose all 24 exposures in roughly 40 minutes. I must admit that’s much faster than I usually shot a roll film, painstakingly faster even. I then walked back to the drug store and turned in my film for processing, which cost me another 5 dollars. Had time permitted I could have had my results within 60 minutes, but I had tickets to football game Saturday afternoon so I had to put off seeing the results tell Sunday morning.
In the end I had to wait a little over 24 hours, and my wallet was 10 dollars lighter. Yet not only did I get my film developed at that price, but a set of prints. Plus I’ve already scanned the images into my computer creating digital copies, a few of which I’m sharing as part of this post. All things considered I was quite happy with the cost, results, and turn around time.