Yeah, we all know that that digital cameras are incredibly easy to use, are capable of astonishing clarity, and the images provide nearly infinite possibilities in post-processing. But digital ain’t so perfect. Or maybe it is…and that’s the problem. It’s too perfect. Digital pictures are too clean, too uniform, too smooth. In-camera technology ensures the focus and exposure are perfect (unless you’re one of those obstinate ones who insists on actually doing it yourself), and the exposure is then touched-up by algorithms in the camera’s processor to make sure the JPEG looks “right”. You know how you feel about that family who lives down the block, with their perfect house and perfect hair and perfect children and perfect lives? You hate them, don’t you? Their perfection is annoying. And so it is with digital photography.
We all know film is flawed; if it weren’t, we’d all still be shooting it. It’s costly, laborious, and finicky. The results are often different than what you expected: out of focus, or dark, or grainy. It’s hard to get it to do what you want, but it’s fun trying. And the results, when they’re good, and sometimes even when they aren’t, have character. They’re alive.
If digital is that well-groomed cousin who always shows up wearing an impeccably-tailored pastel sweater vest and talking about the latest issue of Vanity Fair, film is the uncle who gets drunk every Thanksgiving and started reciting dirty limericks at your eighth birthday party. And you know which one you’re rather spend time with.