How much do you value a free PDF that you got from some website in exchange for your email address? That PDF cost you nothing in terms of dollars, and it probably sits unread and unappreciated in your documents folder. Oftentimes, something that is free is unappreciated. We sacrificed nothing in order to get it, so we don’t value it very highly.
Looking at my Lightroom catalog from last year, I took about 20,000 digital photos. Lots of the images look nearly alike. Many of these images are just sketches – incomplete thoughts that helped me see the final resultant image. I don’t really value most of my individual images all that much since they cost nothing to produce and I have several that are similar. With my camera in hand, the cost of each additional image is zero. The result is that I don’t value each image like I do an image shot with film. With film, each image might cost almost a $1. I appreciate what I receive in exchange for my hard earned income. Since I value the images I make and am limited to a finite roll of 36 at a time, I take the extra effort to contemplate composition, content, and gesture much more carefully.
In addition to more intentional photography, you will make far fewer images, meaning that you will value each one of them more than each digitally produced photograph. To me, shooting film is like buying postcards. I make a few representative images of a place to remember or commemorate it. I don’t buy 250 postcards, but rather just about 3 or so. Since I receive back a physical product in the form of an analog raw image on a piece of film I can hold, I value it more. Sure, these images are digitally scanned so I can easily share the photos, but the underlying raw image is physical analog matter.
Dallas Art Museum, Nikon F5, 24mm f/1.4, Kodak Portra 400 film.