Video: Why Some Photographers ‘Can’t Stop Shooting Film’

In terms of marketshare, it’s rather obvious digital photography has the upper hand. Whether it’s convenience or other reasons, digital seems to make sense for many for its flexibility across the board. But, despite vast advantages of a digital workflow, there are those still dedicated to analogue photography.

In an attempt to understand why it is some photographers are dedicated to film, wedding photographer and filmmaker Amrit Vatsa took a look into the art form that is analogue photography.


In the above video, a 3-Minute Stories piece, film photographer Edson Dias (pictured above) what it is about film photography that captures his heart. Alongside footage captured at Goa-CAP, short for Centre for Alternate Photography, Vatsa’s voice narrates his thoughts on why it is some photographers “Can’t Stop Shooting Film.”


While not everyone will agree with the points made in the short video, he brings up a rather solid comparison, likening photography to painting, noting the differences between those who do something for convenience or business purposes and those who do something as a visual means of telling their story.

At, well, 3-minutes long, it’s a quick watch well worth your time, whether you’re an analogue, digital or hybrid photographer. If you’d like to keep up with Vatsa, you can check out his work over on his website, Shaadigrapher.

(via The Phoblographer)

  • Alan Klughammer

    I see a lot of inconsistencies with your argument, but let me compare the two processes:

    Capturing light in a camera, whether digital or analogue is very similar, the light creates a change on a sensor, this sensor is then recorded. In Digital it is recorded as binary data on a memory card, in film it is recorded as a chemical change in molecules.

    The image is then developed or downloaded. For digital this is very mechanical. I admit there is a bit of choice in developing film, but most people treat this as a mechanical process, and the choices made here can be duplicated (for the most part) in post processing digital.

    Now comes the “printing”. Film is placed in an enlarger or contact frame (or more likely scanned, but that really blurs the distinction). Some manipulation is possible with burning/dodging and coarse contrast control. Here is where digital shines. There is WAY more control and manipulation possible with digital.

    An analogue print is now developed, a fairly mechanical process. A digital artist now can choose his output medium, whether screen, canvas, metal, glossy paper, matte or whatever (however I will admit that many digital photographers just use the same printer for all their works, just like many analogue photographers use the same process to develop their prints)

    In the art world, if you remove historic photographs, because digital was not available to artists, I don’t see a bias towards analogue. In fact the opposite, the most expensive print ever sold ( was digitally manipulated

  • Jeff

    I am amazed at the folks here that have turned this into a film vs digital argument. In the video, it is clearly stated that a digital printout is not a photograph. That much is true and that seems to be the sticking point that people here are struggling with. Think about the word photograph… Photo = light, graph = write. An analog print is a photograph because light passed through a negative and onto a sheet of paper. This transmitted light “writes” the image onto the paper emulsion, therefore it is a photograph. An inkjet print is not a photograph because a computer tells a printer how much and what color of ink to squirt onto an uncoated sheet of paper. This process does not involve writing with light.

    This is not a comparison of one versus the other, is is simply a difference between the two mediums based on the definition do a word.

  • Stephen S.

    That’s a perfectly valid way to view things, Jeff. If you’re interested in exploring the counterpoint, have a look at the schools of thought on prescriptivism versus descriptivism in language.

  • David Vaughn

    You could, uh, duplicate it a….medium format DSLR. :P

    The difference in those two images (aside from the tonality) is not caused by the medium, but rather the format.

    Granted, shooting medium format film is much more cost effective than shooting digital medium format.

  • Andres Trujillo

    “You are wrong in generalizing your personal views”

    Something we could agree on, like here:

    “a digital print is not a photograph, like a digital painting is not a paint” (paraphrasing the content).
    As a shooter in both mediums, I gotta say, I thought that “photography” was “painting with light” (something both mediums accomplish in different ways), no mention of chemical process

  • David Vaughn

    I don’t think that’s exactly the point he was making but ok.

  • Amrit Vatsa

    I agree with you when you say that as long as photography by definition means ‘painting by light’ (irrespective of the process) – it still is a photograph!

    My earlier comment only disagreed with your approach of ‘only end result should matter’. If you go back and watch the video again, I have kept the ‘conclusion’ open (which you paraphrased above). I never concluded and said ‘and therefore those who shoot in film do so because this is the only way to get a real photograph’. But then, if my intent is not clear and instead of discussing the final conclusion you want to ‘win’ a debate that Edson was wrong in his definition, hey you won! All that he really meant to say is, when you develop a film and love the process, for you it becomes a piece of art which cannot be reproduced by printing (even when final outcome might ‘look’ the same). This feeling is evident between a real painting and a digital print of a painting but this feeling is almost non existent in most photographers. You only made it clear that you are indeed one of them. And as I said earlier, most of of us are like that!

    I am sure you have your own reasons to still shoot on film and may be the short-doc does not answer that?

  • Andres Trujillo

    Sorry if I came accross that way, but I have no intention of attacking you, or your film, regardless of Edson’s position, it is a very nice film, and I’m sure that it is a very nice group of people enjoying the medium. I do think that Edson enjoys his pasion (I used to loathe the smell of the chemicals, but I find myself missing it too every once in a while), but I believe his reasoning is flawed (which is not an attack on you, or the film content), or clouded by that which he enjoys.

    I find that film is fun for some little projects (and I giggle every time I take a shot with my SLR and I check the back of the camera… futility), both mediums have their pros and cons, but to try to characterize one medium above the other… it is pointless (IMO), art is subjective, and in reality, the medium has less to do than the content (content is king, if you get there with film, digital, painting, carving… whatever, just get there with what makes sense to you).

    Again, sorry if I came accross as if I was trying to win an argument with you.

  • James

    Digital printout is not a photograph. The analogy to a painting i think applies to digital as well as it does to analogue it doesn’t matter if you’re printing in a dark room or on an inkjet, it’s still not the original and from your comparison to a painting, only the processed negative would be true art.