Why Film Photography Can Benefit Every Photographer

In this issue, Jakob Lilja-Ruiz, aka @Portra_Papi, shares his thoughts around how film photography offers unique benefits for photographers. He argues that its constraints, like cost per exposure, encourage a deliberate approach to image-making, fostering creativity and quality. He believes embracing film can enrich both artistic expression and technical proficiency, making it a valuable tool for photographers at all levels.

Film photography is often perceived as an imperfect medium characterized by its limited shots and lack of immediate dependability, especially when compared to its digital counterpart. However, it’s precisely these challenges that can shape and enhance one’s creativity. In fact, I believe that every photographer can benefit from incorporating film into their practice.

The inherent limitations of film photography, such as the cost per exposure, serve as a catalyst for creativity. Unlike digital photography, where the temptation to capture countless images is ever-present, shooting on film forces photographers to pause and carefully consider each shot. This economic constraint encourages a more deliberate approach, where the focus shifts from quantity to quality.

Renowned photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson famously coined the term the “Decisive Moment,” emphasizing the importance of capturing fleeting, decisive instances that encapsulate the essence of a scene.

Film photography inherently encourages a slower, more methodical approach to image-making. By eschewing the convenience of autofocus and other automated features found in digital cameras, photographers are compelled to engage more deeply with the technical aspects of their craft.

Operating a camera manually fosters a deeper understanding of exposure, composition, and the nuances of light. This intimate familiarity with the equipment not only enhances technical proficiency but also cultivates a heightened sense of anticipation and patience.

One of the most captivating aspects of film photography is its ability to render rich, evocative color palettes. Unlike the limitless possibilities afforded by digital manipulation, film imposes a tangible, finite palette that harkens back to traditional photographic processes.

Embracing these inherent color characteristics encourages photographers to develop a distinctive visual style rooted in authenticity and intentionality. Proper exposure becomes paramount in capturing the nuances of color, highlighting the importance of meticulous technique throughout the entire process.

Finally, achieving optimal results in film photography often hinges on collaboration with a reputable lab for developing and scanning. While the proliferation of digital technologies has led to a decline in traditional film labs, discovering a trusted partner can significantly elevate the quality and consistency of one’s work. Investing time and effort into identifying a lab that aligns with your artistic vision and workflow is a crucial step towards achieving mastery in film photography.

While film photography presents unique challenges and demands a greater investment of time and resources, its transformative potential for enhancing creativity and technical proficiency makes it a valuable tool for photographers of all levels. By embracing the limitations, the deliberate pace, and harnessing the distinctive characteristics of film, photographers can unlock new dimensions of artistic expression and elevate their craft to new heights.

Jakob’s preferred Look and Feel for his scans.

About the Author

Jakob Lilja-Ruiz

Jakob Lilja-Ruiz (aka @Portra_Papi) is a film-based landscape photographer who has a deep passion for capturing the beauty of wild places and the people who journey through them. Originally from a farm town north of San Francisco, Jakob’s love for photography sparked his desire to explore the world beyond his small hometown. He was inspired by the adventurous spirits of nomads traveling the country, chasing rugged landscapes across the US.

Jakob has been traveling with a camera for 5 years, with over 3 years spent solely on film. This way of life led him to sell everything in his small Bay Area apartment and live on the road, fully dedicated to pursuing his passion for photography.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

0
Your Cart
Your cart is empty

How do I drop off my film?

1. Place your film order on gelatinlabs.com – select ‘Return Shipping’ at checkout’ to get negatives returned (and prints, if you ordered them).

2. Envelopes for your order are provided over the counter. Write your name and order number, and load film rolls inside.

3. Hand over your envelope to a Knickerbocker team member.

Your film will head to Gelatin Labs every Monday and Thursday!

How do I drop-off my film?

1. Place your film order on gelatinlabs.com – select ‘Ship Negatives’ to get negatives returned (and prints, if you ordered them).

2. Our box is located near the exit of the coffee shop. Take an envelope (or your own ziploc), bag up your film, and write your order number. Your film will head to Gelatin Labs!

How do I drop-off my film?

1. At the front entrance, buzz in to be let inside.

2. The Gelatin drop-off box is directly across from the front desk. Place your order via the QR code on the box. Select ‘Ship Negatives’ to get negatives (and prints, if you ordered them) returned.

3. Take an envelope (or your own ziploc) from the front desk, bag up your film, and write your order number. Your film will head to Gelatin Labs!

Print With Gelatin Labs

Fill out the form below and our team will get back to you via email with a link for you to upload your images.
Print Form

Please choose your print size(s):

Finish Preference

It’s Time To Get Printing!

Whatever type of work you create, the Gelatin Labs Print Upload will render beautiful, archival prints that will enable you to bring your art off of your screen and into the realm of physical existence. The process is simple: select your print size, upload your images, and pick from three distinct finishes!

8x10 inch

Body text for more information. Body text for more information.

4x6 inch

Body text for more information. Body text for more information.

Start Your Film Order

Welcome to Gelatin Labs, your trusted partner for all your film photography needs! We recognize that each photographer has their unique preferences, which is why we are excited to introduce two remarkable options to cater to your individual needs: Simplified and Customized.

Simplified

DEVELOP + SCAN • PRINT

  • Streamlined options for quick checkout
  • Choose the look & feel of your images
  • Less options for an uncomplicated experience

Customized

DEVELOP • SCAN • PRINT

  • Expanded customization for film types, options, services
  • Upgrade to SuperPro hi-res scans
  • More options for the more advanced user

What is a contact sheet?