As a professional photographer I built my business upon digital photography, but my training as a young photographer only involved the use of film. Of course, we did not have digital technology way back when. I don’t think that we dreamed about it, either. I can say that many times I simply wanted a camera inside my head, behind my eyeballs; it could take exactly what I see. I suspect one day after I am dead, digital technology will allow such a device to be planted in the brain. Eureka! Instant photographer.
We are close to that, maybe.
In my opinion, however, photography is both film and digital. Granted, digital technology has enabled people to do what they once dreamed about. Millions of electronic cameras are being sold to clickers, amateurs, pros and pro-wannabes. During the course of this trend film technology has largely come to a standstill. But all over the world there are pockets of film users, some shooting color transparencies, most creating in black and white. Professionals and amateurs who know are shooting both media.
There are many who think film is dead. It is not. Kodak, Ilford, Arista, Fujifilm and others, are producing terrific color and black and white films for old-fashioned photographers like me. Processing is available, too – commercial or do it yourself.
Digital photography has obvious advantages. First, it is the now thing. If one wants a camera, it can be purchased anywhere, not only in camera stores. Second, it is instant gratification for the photographer, monkey-do, monkey-see. Take the photo. See the photo. Problem is we can take thousands of photos in one session. We must view them all, good and bad. Then we either file them or forget to do so. Or lose them.
Film photography requires a bit more effort. I push black and white film through my 30-year-old film cameras. I process the mysterious images (which I don’t see until they dry). I can print them in the darkroom, or I can scan them to make digital prints. In my mind’s eye I know what I have photographed, but I wait, I anticipate the picture that is coming. That is the fun part - not seeing it, yet. When I make a print the creation is complete. The filing part, I still have to do that.
If you don’t have a digital camera, but you do have a film camera, get started on your photography, anyway. Students are learning film photography at local high schools. Trident Technical College still teaches darkroom and stuff. The College of Charleston's arts program includes film. The Charleston Center for Photography is also a resource for black and white film photographers. Most film is purchased online.
Oh, yeah, one more thing: You are not alone.