Shooting Tip: Slowing Down Your Photography

by | Sep 18, 2021

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

“Once she stopped rushing through life, she was amazed how much more life she had time for.” ― Unknown

One of the interesting side effects that I’ve recently noticed about shooting film is that it has slowed down my photography. Once while traveling in Mexico with a well-known travel writer he told me, “I’ve never seen anybody shoot as many pictures as you.” And I am somewhat embarrassed, to admit that the advent of digital photography turned me into first a “shoot and scoot” photographer and then into a “spray and pray” shooter. But no more. My recent experiences shooting film has slowed me down and I now try to take time to not only smell the roses but to photograph them as well.

While it might seem obvious that for many SLR and rangefinder cameras you have to manually advance the film; my new (old) Contax 167MT has a built-in motor and the optional P-5 battery pack. But you still have to manually focus and take the time to use the built-in meter if it has one, otherwise you’ll need to use a handheld meter, to determine exposure. Then and only then can you make the exposure. Whew! But there seems to me that there are some advantages to shooting slower:

You won’t miss surprises lurking in the background, such as people walking into the shot. This is especially true for car show photography, where just the tiniest bit of patience will result in cleaner, better backgrounds, which also can produce…

Better composition: I think taking even a few more seconds before clicking the shutter will produce better images—the first time—without having to resort to Photoshop cloning and retouching. As Leon Kennamer once told me long ago, “get it on the negative. This may result in fewer but better images.

Better Expressions in Portraits. As the cliché goes…”wait for it” then click the shutter.

I’ve been getting lots of question about my experiment with film photography and not all of it has been what you might call great. As I write this I have just returned from my shooting my first roll of Ilford XP2 Super film in my new (old) Contax 167MT after a disastrous second roll with the Yashica FX-3 Super 2000. I’m hoping to put all of my experience to date into a Film Friday video real soon now.


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