You know how I look at the cost of film? Let me share. I use mostly medium format cameras. My rough math suggests that on average I spend a dollar each time I press my shutter button. That can quickly become costly. But you know what that cost means to me? It means that I have to give each image more value to balance that cost, to make that cost worth it. You could easily replace the word “cost” with “investment” and this might be a good mental exercise for some. But I prefer to just redefine how I am aware of cost. Because my photos have cost, they have value to me. Because they have value I labor over them more, I am more careful, I am more thoughtful, I love them more. But monetary cost is not the only cost, pinhole taught me this. There is cost in time as well. If I am working with my pinholes, or lately with my ND filters, each image might cost me several minutes of my life, maybe even hours. I stood on the Broadway Bridge for about 20-25 minutes making this photo. I could have wandered a lot of ground in that time, found many other snap shots, but instead I invested all that time in this one image. It had a higher than normal cost and I gave it a higher than normal value.
When you start thinking about the value of each image, when you start applying a greater value to each image what I have found tends to happen is the results improve, or your enjoyment of the process improves, or both. To swing back to digital for a moment (and this is not a dig at digital) if each shot is theoretically free and you can make hundreds of images in one go, how much value do you tend to attach to each of those images? Not much, right? 9 out of 10 of them will get deleted or filed away to obscurity on your hard drive, maybe more than that. We shoot freely and hence the tendency is perhaps to shoot valuelessly.
Yes, film costs. It costs money. It costs time. It costs sweat and sometimes blood. I welcome those costs, I don’t see them as a negative, I see them as a reason to value what I am creating, to strive harder for a more meaningful process or result, to inspire greater patience and vision and practice on my part. I don’t want my film photos to be free because I would be afraid I would not value them as much then.
Something to ponder.
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