I was reflective this morning, thinking about my photography career and the direction it has taken me. I am fortunate to have grown into photography during one of the greatest transitions ever – from film to digital – during my lifetime.
I started in the late 80’s learning black and white darkroom techniques in high school. This led to a fantastic experience shooting for my college newspaper in the early 90’s. After an internship, my photojournalism career lasted about 10 more years, shooting for daily newspapers on deadline in various communities. Most of that career was spent shooting 35mm film, as digital cameras in the newsroom didn’t take over until early 2000.
In the early days we shot black and white film for high speed work (night and indoor sports) so we could push process. Slide film was used for color work, gradually transitioning to color negative film. I used a mixture of hand processing and Wing Lynch machine processing to handle the various chemical processes needed to get the film developed.
Mixed in with all the journalism work, I also worked with 4×5 large format and medium format cameras for some studio, portrait and landscape work. So throw in some medium format film, and a few hundred sheets of 4×5.
If you add up all the journalism work, the personal projects, landscape work, medium format portraiture etc. conservatively I estimate over the last 32 years I’ve developed 13,000 rolls of film. 13,000 ROLLS OF FILM! My gosh, that’s a lot of film.
If you average the film to say a 24 exposure roll I’ve developed about 8.6 miles of film!!
Using the same 24 exposure roll average, I’ve looked through the camera viewfinder (or ground glass) and pushed the shutter on about 312,000 images. That is 312,000 times where I made the decisive moment to take a film photograph.
I still shoot film today, admittedly just not as often as I would like. Life has changed a lot for me since the mid 00’s. Digital has become a part of my workflow as it has for just about every photographer. I’ve also changed career paths and I am not as active in photography as I would like to be. I do still shoot film when I can though. It is as rewarding today as it was back then. This blog, the content I create and the photos I take are still fantastic creative outlets and I cherish them greatly. My film cameras are extensions of my personal vision. I feel most comfortable shooting images when I am looking through the viewfinder of a metal, manual film camera.
As I take my film cameras out and into the world, I will continue to enjoy adding a few more thousand images to my film shooting experience!