Words and photos by Chuck Graham
Sometimes it feels like I'm the last of the last slide film photographers. I know that can't possibly be, yet I wonder if the last dinosaurs felt the same way. Really though, I don't know what I'd do without slide film. Wait. Oh yeah, I'd have to go to digital. Until then, I'll stubbornly stick to my guns and reach for the 36 exposures, maximizing my frames. Film forever, or until it is not made anymore.
Why? In this age of more-is-better there are several reasons why I love shooting with slide film. For one, I simply like the way it looks compared to digital captures. Also too many photos means too many choices, which means more time spent on the computer. I already write for a living, so cleaning up and manipulating images doesn't entice me to stare at the screen any more than I have to. I'd rather spend that extra time in the field shooting photos of what I love such as kayaking, standup paddling, travel and wildlife.
Whenever I'm around other photographers they always say, "Don't you want to know what your photos look like right now, or if you got the shot?" As a film holdout in the digital age, I think I've had to become more patient with my work. It really doesn't bother me not to know right then. I can wait until I get home. When I do pick up my processed images, that is when the anticipation mounts. I turn on some U2, flip on the light box and scour over my images from my latest travels.
Sometimes I feel like the black sheep at the airport. It's entertaining watching the quizzical looks from airport security. I'll ask them to hand-check my film. Most of the time, security is more than willing. It only takes a few minutes, but some airports are defiant. The worst was in Paris. They weren't going to give me an inch, adamant about me running my film through the X-ray machine. I stood my ground, held up the line and then the airport police arrived. I explained my position and they hand-checked my film. They told me next time I would have to comply. I'll dodge Paris in the future.
Zimbabwe was the same but their security was so lax, I simply waited for a couple of sleepy looking guards to turn their heads. When they did, I slipped my film past the X-ray machine and I kept moving forward.
Don't get me wrong. I love all the imagery out there. There are lots of phenomenal photographers, but I believe you have to go with what works best for you. For now, I'll stick with the little green boxes of Fuji Velvia 50 and Provia 100. I mean, digital is always going to be there. I can't say that with confidence in regards to film. I'm like a loyal old dog, but I'm enjoying every minute of it.
www.chuckgrahamphoto.com Instagram: @chuckgrahamphoto.
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