Film photography has been around for bloody ages…I’m pretty sure Caesar shot with a Leica. However, these days many photographers would argue Film has become an obsolete format…a crime punishable by death back in the Republic! There’s no questioning the efficiency and quality of modern digital cameras, but once you’ve shot film there’s no going back…I mean forwards. Let me explain…brace yourself for another tangent!
Guthrie Govan is arguably one of the most advanced guitar virtuosos alive. His musicianship has taken technical playing to a new level. Guthrie’s musical theory is flawless, his speed and accuracy perfect and his album ‘ Erotic Cakes ’ a masterpiece. However, as much as I worship his album as a work of genius, it does not make the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. Alternatively, take Jimi Hendrix’s performance of ‘ Bleeding Heart ’ live at the Albert Hall in 1969. Hendrix plays numerous duff notes, the guitar feedbacks intermittently and his musicianship is not technically breath taking by modern standards. Yet, his performance is quite simply life changing. His wailing bends, dirty guitar sound, intermittent licks and chord work throughout the song resonate through my soul. So you’re thinking, that’s great, but what the hell has any of this got to do with film photography?! Guthrie Govan is a modern DSLR camera. He gets perfect shots every time, immaculate colors and can knock out huge quantities of spectacular imagery without thinking. Hendrix is a Film camera. The imperfection in his playing, just like the light leaks and grain in Film, is what makes his performance so magic. Unlike, Guthrie’s clinical DSLR performance, Hendrix’s musicianship, like the Film Camera is always different, unpredictable and subsequently more special. I’m sure many photographers…and musicians for that matter…reading this will argue the above is a load of rubbish and I’m the first to admit this is my personal opinion. That said, I’d at least recommend trying film before you condemn it, in the same way I’d recommend digging out the record player, sticking on Hendrix and falling in love with imperfection.
After taking my Canon AE-1 Film camera on my recent bike tour in Belgium I’d never travel without it. The entire process of shooting Film is incredibly rewarding and I’d argue its made me a better photographer. The AE-1 forced me to more carefully select my shots, become more confident at selecting the correct settings and crucially allowed me to develop a more personal relationship with my camera. Here’s my pursuit of imperfection.