Shooting Film the Easy Way

Canon Sure Shot & Portra 400

In addition to documenting my creative process, the content I write for the blog generally comes from two sources: things I wish I would have known and responses to ideas I encounter. Today’s topic comes from both! Before I started shooting film I was under the impression that it was a hard thing to do. I would have to learn a new vocabulary of numbers. I would have to buy workshops and search forums and watch 20 minute YouTube videos. I would need to carry a handheld light meter and put it under people’s chins (this was a huge deterrent for me). After trying each of those things I instead developed my own method based on the easiest possible principle: I shoot in automatic.

Agfa Jsoly Junior & Ilford HP5

Yep! That’s it. That’s the easy way to shoot film. Learning what kind to buy, how to load it, wind it and where to to get it developed (I go here) is the only learning curve I rode. This suits my intuitive style. I don’t think when I shoot, I perceive. I’m attuned to the decisive moment of action and when I see it I click. This process is interrupted for me when I have to check on settings, remember rules and fret about outcomes. It’s no surprise that most of my cameras are point and shoots. If I need more quality I use a $10 SLR that my mom bought me at a garage sale. Polaroid is a good match for the same reasons. I use a refurbished SX-70 from Rare Medium. It’s my favorite camera.

Polaroid SX-70 & SX-70 Color

In my experience most cameras perform surprisingly well in automatic mode. Every film photo on this site and my Instagram was shot in automatic. I don’t think I’ll ever learn another method. I just don’t care! I’ve been able to achieve the results I’m looking for using automation. When I invest in a medium format camera, it will have autofocus as well. I shoot instinctually and fast. Automation enables my vision. I consider it my assistant. We make a good team.

Holga 120N & Portra 400

I scan my polaroids on an Epson V600. I get my film developed and scanned locally. I don’t give them instructions other than to cut and sleeve it (instead of leaving it in a roll). They’ve never given me options for sizes; the scans are big enough for the prints I make. They have a 3 day turnaround time. The techs know my girls by name. That’s my process! Shooting film the easy way.

Films I use:
Ilford HP5
Ilford Delta 100
Portra 400
Fuji 200
Polaroid SX-70
Instax Mini