So why I do I prefer film photography?

So why I do I prefer film photography? Am I a Luddite? After all, this is the 21st Century, the Digital Age, the era of The Cloud. Naturally, you’re supposed to snap your photo with your mobile device or digital camera -- and within an instant there they are, emblazoned across Facebook, Flickr, Snapchat, or your home computer.

I don’t care that everyone has the latest DSLRs, mirrorless cameras or smartphones, the results and the experience is what matters to me. Frankly, I dislike the experience of using digital cameras. Film cameras eliminate the distractions of switching the camera on, waiting for it to boot up, then tinkering with menus, setting, cryptic parameters, white balance, and other things You open the camera, focus, set the aperture, set the shutter speed, and click your photo. Done!

Honestly, our modern “digital life” makes me edgy, and  I have to flee it occasionally. That’s why I disappear from Facebook for days at a time.

I admit that, for me, part of the appeal is film’s scarcity. Film has become counter-cultural in a sense. Film lets you revel in the advantages of technology past. Photographers under the age of 20 probably has never used a film camera, so you can enjoy the looks you get when you unfold that huge Crown Graphic. It’s fun to watch youth search for The Menu Screen – in vain.

Film cameras are great icebreakers! Carry a vintage film camera and it will draw a crowd. People will want to try it. They’ll ask you questions about it.

A film camera sets you apart. It’s retro. It’s cool. It’s edgy, counter-intuitive, esoteric. Everyone can use a digital camera or a camera app on their smartphone. Big deal. Not everyone can use a film camera. It takes the ability to predict what the final image will look like before you ever press the shutter release. It takes practice. That makes it exclusive. That makes it hip. Yes, it makes it a bit elitist (and I do not like elitists, customarily), but elitist in a good-natured, artistic way. Sniff.

Film photographs are special. They’re an occasion. They’re not a flood of here-today, forgotten-tomorrow digital commodities, one of the flood of endless images banally flowing across computer screens every moment.

Most persons aren’t as camera shy once they know your camera isn’t digital because the photo isn’t instantly being gawked at by others online. They’ll feel more assured that the photo won’t end up online if they ask.

Film, especially when you shoot a fully-manual camera, forces you to think about each photograph. Ouch. No, that's a good thing. You'll take fewer photographs as a result, and have a greater percentage of those photographs that are great.
You don't just takes hundreds of photographs. I know a “professional” portrait photographer who typically takes 500 or more photos per session. Sadly, almost none are any good. How much better if this “professional photographer” took time to think about composition, lighting and the overall feel of the photograph instead of just blazing away like a machine gun. That's the difference between film and digital: a sharpshooter who nails it in one shot versus a machine gunner who blasts everything in sight hoping to hit the real target. I doubt I ever shot more than 36 photos on any professional job, usually much fewer; yet nearly every photo was flawless.

Each frame of film costs you money. That reality puts the brakes on the mindless machine-gunning of digital photography.
Your film camera has no LCD screen. You can't check each photo immediately after you take it. Good. This forces you to use your brain and learn to pre-visualize the subject.

You must wait before processing the photos you're able to keep emotionally detached from the photos during. The forced time delay serves you well and ensures objectivity. You'll show only the truly great photos instead of drowning your viewers with a hundred photos of your previous meal, the dog laying in the street, the mess from your latest home improvement project and the shopfronts of every you store you last visited.

Film has limitations and that's great. It's like chess – you master the rules despite the weird, arbitrary limitations. You then become a chess master. You master the game, instead of the game mastering you. So it is with film. You master the technology, instead of the technology mastering you, unlike digital.

Film has a special feel no software can equal. Colors are more natural, tone is smoother, and the overall look of film is more dramatic, more ethereal, and genuinely more artistic.

Film has superior dynamic range without the need to hassle with that cumbersome HDR multi-exposure technique and its attendant complex matrix light metering. Please.

Film exposure is easy to calculate, and film has a good margin of error that will still yield good photographs. You never have to worry about suddenly having the highlights of your photo disappear into a white blob image. Even when film is seriously overexposed highlights will gradually fade to white.

Film is grainy. Cool. Revel in it. Digital noise is ugly and makes the photo seem cheap and artificial. Film grain is beautiful, individual, non-intrusive and feels organic, a natural part of the photo.

Every film has different characteristics, creating a different interpretation of the same subject. You can photograph the same subject with different films and have very different photographs.

Film gives you a real hard backup. Yet you can still enjoy all the benefits of digital, like sending emailing the photos or uploading them to Facebook, SnapChat or Flickr.