Its official I am obsessed!
Obviously I am obsessed with photography. That is a simple one, but I am coming to realize I am obsessed with a a women. I love looking at pictures of her, but really I love looking at the photos she took. Her name is Vivian Maier, and I am not a bit ashamed that I am obsessed with her. If you know the Vivian Maier story keep reading, if not go here and read this first. The story is incredible, yes, but that is only a small part of why I am writing this. Vivian Maier’s photography is incredible. This past weekend I had a chance to check out the Vivian Maier’s Chicago exhibit at the Chicago History Museum, most of the prints I had seen at one point or another, impressive, what I expected. What I wasn’t expecting was around the perimeter of the room. There lies the reason I am obsessed with Vivian. The exhibit has photos from complete rolls of film. 12 shots (a complete roll of 120 format film) taken at different locations and points in time of Chicago’s history. I am amazed at how many flawless shots she was capturing in a row. If you have ever seen the contact sheets of most street photographers you know that it typically takes a photographer a few attempts before nailing what Henry Cartier-Bresson calls the decisive moment. Besides the single moments that have made Ms. Maier famous, the mastery she proves in 12 shots has left me speechless. I wish I was able to capture or express the emotions I felt checking out what is one of the greatest photographers in Chicago’s history, but alas I can’t do so with words. I will try my best to capture those emotions with photos as I continue my journey in photography.
Thank you Vivian Maier for being an inspiration to me!
My wife doesn’t thank you for me wanting a camera similar to what you used.
You have probably read all about why film is better than digital or digital is better. What ever side of the fence you fall on this post is not about that. This is why I still shoot film.
Film makes me a better photographer. It has limitations; number of shots on a role, set ASA number, frames per second, and more. I add limitations to that as well; I use set lens focal lengths and manual focus cameras. How do these limitations make me better? Well I’m glad you asked. Having a limited number of shots forces me to be a more deliberate shooter. I need to make sure that the subject is one I truly feel strongly about. This goes hand in hand with a set number of frames per second. I cannot rely on my camera’s speed to capture a moment, I need to anticipate what will be happening. Having a set ASA number pushes me to have a steady hand, at times I need to be able to use a slower shutter speed than I am typically comfortable with. In order to have the shot be sharp I need to be able to hold the camera still. Limiting the focal length forces me to look at the world differently. I know I cannot zoom in with my feet staying still, I have to move to compose my shots. The last thing on the list is manual focus. Having to focus the lens by hand allows me to recognize focus points faster, sometimes an autofocus lens just cannot pick focus correctly and I know this will not slow me down.
Those are the practical reasons why I still shoot film. On to the non-practical. When I was young my father taught me how to shoot with a Canon AE-1. I learned everything I know about photography from him and Canon. I still know the layout of that AE-1 like the back of my hand. Shooting with film also holds a special nostalgia for me. There is something special about the wait. Not knowing if your photos will be great, or that you captured the precise moment in time is magical. I also enjoy the feel of vintage cameras. The old metal and leatherette is something that you need to experience if you haven’t had the chance to.
I don’t shoot solely on film and appreciate the speed and ease of processing digital. I just hope we never lose the opportunity to use film for photography even if it is solely for the nostalgia.