Before I set out on my monologue, let me make it clear that I have nothing against digital photography; I often use the digital medium when I need quicker results or I am under budget constraints. These however are commercial considerations and in no way they affect my love for shooting on films.
I have had many conversations/arguments with photographers, friends and other sundry elders who used to shoot on film in their heydays but have now resorted to megapixels and though I have often ended up on the losing side, my love for film is pretty much intact. People often tell me that one should make progress with technology; after all we have better quality, megapixels, hard drives, instant results, cost efficiency, DSLRs, Photoshops, etc. To certain extent I agree with them, that for a beginner it is better to use digital as you can instantly check your results on the LCD screen and learn quickly from your mistakes. I am not denying these facts but somewhere I suspect I am not good at debating and putting my point across which is why I'm often at loss to explain to them why film is better. While I still can’t do that, what I can do is tell you what film means to me. Film for me is magic; it’s filled with anticipation, surprises and timelessness. To me photography is more about experience than the outcome, at the same time I feel if my experience is good it has a direct effect on the outcome. So when I have only 35 frames, I am far more disciplined, I don’t shoot recklessly and I'm more focused, as I know I don’t have enough chances like digital offers. Also I wouldn't know how my picture would turn out which makes me careful but then once I've taken a shot, I don’t have to worry if the picture has turned out good, I just forget about it and focus on the next one which doesn't necessarily occur with digital. Sometimes my pictures turn out to be pretty unique due to this approach, for e.g. I had taken the below shot while shooting from the hip and then I just forgot about it. But when the film came from the lab after developing, I found this unique frame and I was quite happy with it. That’s exactly what film is, once I have shot all 35 frames and rewind the film back into the canister, what I have in my hand is Pandora’s Box. I have absolutely no idea what would come out of it, the highly anticipated shots sometimes turn out to be ordinary and the shots that you had completely forgotten about turn out to be something interesting. The best part is yet to come. Now that you've shot your pictures, got the film processed, scanned/printed it and all this took a little while (actually for me it often takes a week as I give my films to the lab on weekends and collect it on the next one) and when you see these pictures that by now you have been completely restless about on how they would finish up, it is some sort of revelation. The texture, the tones, the grain, gives the picture that timeless feel, that aesthetic value, that sensitivity. I don’t need any post processing. It’s a tailor made picture ready in front of my eyes, delighting me as though I've seen some magic trick. And not just that, all those small things related to film photography are real fun. Be it the loading of film, cocking the shutter, the shutter sound, rewinding the film, the waiting part, the contact sheets and though I still have to take the dark room lessons, but I'm sure that day is not too far and it will be as enjoyable as the rest of the process. In a nutshell I could say film photography as compared to digital is like writing with an ink-pen on a paper as compared to typing on computer, now isn't that beautiful.
That bring us to the basic question, why do I use film? Simple, it makes me happy !