36 frames
Gear Theory Philosophy & Reflections

Why I Prefer to use Film for my Street Photography – By Armando Caballero

July 31, 2022

Street photography is what I love to do the most. If I could, I would go out there every single day of my life and take pictures of the world around me. But there is still one thing that I love even more than Street Photography, to do it using my analogue camera and some film stock. There are several reasons for this, let me share them with you.

Enjoyment of the process

Shooting with film makes me enjoy my photographic process much more. Everything from start to finish is fully manual and I need to be fully involved and mindful to get the results I want. If I have to be more mindful, it means that I have to be more present in the moment and the quality of my photos will increase. Mindfulness and being present are key parts of Street Photography. Another thing I love about using analogue is the joy that comes from using a fully mechanical machine designed to capture images. I normally use a Pentax MX, which is a fully mechanical SLR. The sound and feeling of the shutter every time I take a photo has no comparison, it is like heaven to me. Every time I take a photo, I think to myself…”I was born to do this”.

Pentax MX

My beautiful fully mechanical machine. The Pentax MX

Limited amount of photos

The second reason is that having only 36 photos available per roll makes a whole difference for me. When you have a limited number of pictures, it means that you will really look for a moment, a scene, or a person that really drags your attention and triggers some sort of emotion in you. This makes it more likely for me to get a storytelling image than just a random snap of the streets. I normally go to London for a day for my street photography. On average, I will come back home we just one fully exposed roll. Only on a “good day” I will come back with one and a half. I will very rarely manage to expose two full rolls. My 36 images normally turn out to be much better than the 100+ that I would have probably taken if I used my digital camera.

Ilford Film Stock Box

We only get 36 exposures per roll. So we need to make them count.

 

36 frames

The 36 photos coming from the same roll. This is normally what I will shoot on a day’s photo walk in London

My legacy

I also prefer film because of my legacy. Sounds like a movie, right? But let me explain. One of the reasons I love to do Street Photography is that it makes me feel that I am adding something to the world. I am making my contribution to society, and I am leaving behind something that I love. This feeling is even bigger when I use film and I produce a negative. In contrast to digital photos and files, that probably nobody will look at when I’m gone and the digital files become obsolete, the negatives will always be around. This gives me a lot of satisfaction and happiness, knowing that something more tangible than a digital file will remain that will help to tell future generations how I used to see the world through my lens.

Negatives

My pride and joy….My negatives album

Londoners

That classic analogue look cannot be reproduced digitally

That film look

Last but not least, using analogue photography gives that unique film look to my photos. It does not matter what filters you use, film simulation recipes (for Fujifilm digital cameras), or presets, you will never achieve the film look on your photos by doing digital manipulations. To me, the artistic beauty of a film photo is just incomparable to a digital one. I am a sucker for grain, so I always start drooling when I see a photo full of that gorgeous analogue grain.
There are many other reasons that I could list why I prefer to use film for my street photography but I do not want to bore you to death. We can continue the conversation in the comments section, or you can get in touch with me by visiting my website or my Instagram profile from the links below.

Till next time,

Armando Caballero – Street Photographer. Visit is website here 

Armando’s Instagram profile

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7 Comments

  • Reply
    herb kateley
    July 31, 2022 at 5:20 pm

    I myself feel a lot of what you have said here. Film for street to me feels right in a way that digital doesn’t. 400 film in particular. Just the right amount of detail and not too much. recording people on analogue medium seems more appropriate.

    On the subject of legacy. I’ve seen too many piles of slides at estate sales to be comfortable about that. Properly stored and cared for, negatives are the better archive over digital imo, but who ever you leave them to has to both value them and have the ability to keep them.

  • Reply
    David Dutchison
    July 31, 2022 at 9:53 pm

    Nice article, really enjoyed reading it. Two more points if I may, the first, technical… a fully manual camera with exposure pre-set to the current lighting conditions and the focus set to your preferred working distance is so much faster than any digital camera – no start-up time, no finding focus, just frame and shoot.

    The second is emotional, you can’t see the pictures you’ve just taken. This keeps your attention on your subjects and off of your captures… and it also builds instinct.

    • Reply
      Armando Caballero
      August 1, 2022 at 4:54 pm

      Hello David…I’m really glad to hear that you enjoyed it. Wow that’s a fantastic first point. I never thought of it from that point of view, but you are right, it is much faster than digital in that sense. Exactly, not being able to see the photo you just took helps to improve the photographs at the end. Thank you for sharing your thoughts 🙂

    • Reply
      John
      August 1, 2022 at 6:30 pm

      I get what you are saying but I use a FF mirrorless camera with auto iso, the shutter pre set and I zone focus with my Voigtlander manual lens. All I then have to do is point and shoot. I do agree nothing quite beats the quality of a film print though. I mainly shoot mirrorless for convenience and without the cost of film.

      • Reply
        Armando Caballero
        August 1, 2022 at 8:09 pm

        Hey Jonh…thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. That’s great too. In the end, a camera is just the tool that the artist uses to make his/her art. So whatever setup serves you the best, then that is the perfect setup for you. And yes, analogue photography can be expensive sometimes.

  • Reply
    John-Paul Menez
    July 31, 2022 at 11:03 pm

    Very well said Armando! One thing about film digital also cannot replicate is the enjoyment of discovering and mastering all kinds of different film stocks. Getting the right film for the right subject in the right light is magical.

    • Reply
      Armando Caballero
      August 1, 2022 at 5:09 pm

      Hello John…thanks for reaching out and sharing your thoughts. Yes, that’s right, the possible combinations to produce different artistic looks are endless. It can take a lifetime to explore them all, and that is why we are here 😉

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