Chuck Espinoza Photography

Los Angeles Based Freelance Photographer.

Why does shooting film change our thought process?

February 23, 2017

For the longest time I have read how creative and important it is to carry a camera 24/7. I’ve thought about it many times but always fall back to the lazy 2017 version of that and pull out my iPhone. A few weeks ago I decided I’d break out this Nikon point and shoot I bought in 2014. I remember reading an article about a Magnum Agency photographer talking about how great this unobtrusive, non-threatening camera was. A quick browse on ebay and $11 later I was the proud owner of a 1990s era point and shoot 35mm camera.

Nikon Zoom90 35mm

So I set out with an $11 camera, some expired film and 36 chances to make great photos. I was amazed at how my mindset changed. I took my time, I thought about what I was shooting and I was stingy as hell with the exposures. It took me 17 days to make 36 exposures.

Then there was the wait. I mail the film to Richard Photo Lab in Santa Clarita and receive the scans via email. The mailman skipped me the day I put out the film. Then I forgot to put it back in the mailbox…then it was a holiday…I waited…and waited. I was anxious to see what I created and had spent ~$25 to have developed and scanned.

The scans finally showed today and although I feel it was a good exercise I’m underwhelmed at the quality.  I opted for ASA 1600 film in the Nikon and forgotten how grainy 1600 is. The lesson that I did learn by shooting this roll of film is that when I slow the eff down I care more. I compose better, I think about the end result, I take my time. But should it take blowing $25 for 36 files to make me slow down and think about the basics of photography? Is a financial penalty or the novelty of a tiny piece of film motivation to take my time? I wonder if I could do the same showing up to a shoot with my old 7D and a 1 gig compact flash card?


Sunset at the Salton Sea  – Nikon Zoom90 35mm scan

( A $10 digital point and shoot would have made a better sunset shot.)

The Salton Sea  – Nikon Zoom90 35mm scan
Madrona Marsh  – Nikon Zoom90 35mm scan

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