I have noticed a weird behavior on my part. When shooting film, I usually take the time to write down every shot in advance. I note the film that I’m going to use, the lenses, and many times the specific apertures. Subjects, angles, and how many shots to take of each are often included as well. However, when I use a digital camera, I never do that. I get an idea, and then almost immediately, start shooting. I have tried to be diligent in writing down digital shots, but I never seem to complete the task. Something in the back of my mind makes planning for digital shots seem to be a waste of time. Why is this? I have read comments from others where they say film makes them slow down. But why not with digital as well?
Significantly, I feel a little foolish when I plan digital shots. Planning digital shots just seems a little too pretentious, a little too formal. I don’t know how to interpret these feelings. I don’t seem to like digital images any less than film images or vice versa. But, that may be because I’m using digital cameras that are 6, 8, and 10 megapixels, and these resolutions are close to film. That being said, for some reason the process for using each is different, and it feels natural only to that medium. Every time I’ve tried just shooting film with no planning, after a few shots, I feel so guilty that I sit down and write out the shots.
Perhaps, with digital, there is a sense of impermanence that runs deep in my subconscious. On the other hand, digital shooting may be analogous to buffet dining. Since there is no cost to experiment, food is piled onto plates for sampling and then blithely wasted without compunction or a second thought. However, when one has to acknowledge each food item’s cost, much more thought is given to each selection, and one only discards what is actually disliked.
I think the dichotomy in my behavior is directly related to having a smartphone. All routine shots—parties, birthdays, something odd spotted on the street, dessert—I shoot with a smartphone. Smartphones teach that everyday photography is mundane, prosaic, and anyone can do it. When I pick up a digital camera, to some extent, I suppose it makes me feel the same way. Consciously, I know better. I have what, in their day, were advanced digital cameras that required a great deal of skill to use correctly. My Maxxum 7D was the best Minolta had to offer, but when I pick it up, my actions always belie my conscious beliefs.
Since July, I have been creating a studio space to pursue my newly discovered artistic abilities, which now includes drawing, and a little painting, along with my photography experiments. I have props, backdrops, lighting, and platforms for designing compositions, and to-date, I have used the digital cameras solely to experiment with lighting. In the studio, have used the 35mm film cameras only for spur-of-the-moment shots. All purposeful photographs have been on medium format film because the Yashica Mat 124 feels like a studio camera more than the others. Why?—no idea, but clearly, 35mm film cameras have a comparatively different feel as well.
When I notice a quirk or change in my behavior, I always stop to ask why. Now, having spent far too much time on this, I’ll drop it. I love the process of capturing images, and I enjoy looking at them. What else really matters???