Practice more by shooting less

The faster, the better. Or so it seems these days.

A few days ago, I was struck by a photographer telling people that in order to learn they should go out every day and shoot as much as they can. Then, they'd have to go through those few hundred photos before the day is over and select 1 or 2. Next day, repeat.

What this photographer seems to be missing is that photography is much more than taking a picture.

 
 
 
 

Practice makes the master

Building a house isn't all about stacking bricks. You need a plan, a purpose, a goal, so you know where and when to place them.

The same way, photography involves planning, vision, technique, editing, post-processing, printing, and many more skills. Focus on only shooting, and you won't improve the others.

Treating a camera as an assault weapon might give satisfactory results at times. After all, every photographer has had "happy accidents" before; but they are just that, accidents. They aren't part of a bigger vision.

 
 
 
 

Is film a waste of time?

All this made me think while I was developing some rolls of film this morning, though. Am I wasting my time by being here in the bathroom, mixing chemicals, instead of being outside taking photos?

A digital photographer can take better advantage of their precious time: the photo is readily available for post-processing mere milliseconds after pressing the shutter. Ready to take the next one.

Is film a waste of time?

Absolutely not.

 
 
 
 

"Film slows me down"

I'm sure you've heard this from plenty of film photographers, including me. There's a big misconception here.

I used to think that this was all about taking your time, thinking about your shot and making fewer (but hopefully better) images.

Over time, I came to realize that this applies to the whole process.

Preparation is slower than it is with digital, you have to buy the film and load it. Cameras are heavier and they have no IBIS (unlike the mighty Sony A7iii, pun intended) so a tripod is always a very good idea. Developing and scanning / printing your images can take a long time.

All this forces me to reflect on my photography.

Before, I could take a photo, transfer the RAW file to my phone, apply a preset, share it, and call it a day. All within a few minutes.

There's nothing wrong with this approach, and some great photographers work this way. But it's a workflow that doesn't allow for much improvement, if any at all.

Shooting film isn't a requirement to take the time to reflect on your images, though. It can be done with digital, but it requires a discipline I don't have.

Film isn't a waste of time but rather, an investment for the future.

Practice more by shooting less. Reflect on your work. Learn when to take breaks. Get inspired. Improve your craft.