Limitations enable the creative process in photography by reigning in the universe of possibilities while shooting. In a 2013 TED conference, artist Phil Hansen said that “embracing the limitation can actually drive creativity … We need to first be limited in order to become limitless.” Possible limitations include technical (shooting with just one particular focal length lens, using just one camera, or going cell phone only) or subject matter ranging from the broad (street photography) to the specific (shooting reflections or silhouettes). In this vein, I’m advocating the use of film photography to harness economic limitations to inspire more intentional photography thereby broadening your vision, enhancing your creativity, and sharpening your technical skills.
This is not (necessarily) a permanent move to film for you, but maybe a 36 image break or whatever you deem appropriate to achieve self photographic improvement. Your brain will compose an image differently when there is a marginal cost for each additional image. If every time you hit the shutter, you must pay a dollar, you’ll more rapidly move toward greater mental clarity with regard to your creative process. You will more likely think about the components of good composition – whether or not the so called “rule of thirds” should figure in, balance and mass of subject matter, lines, color, texture, etc. I find that I compose and recompose a few times before I actually hit the shutter. Would this image be improved in landscape or portrait orientation? Should I move left or right? What depth of field? Since it’s too painful economically to try every thought that pops into your head, you try just the best ideas. Mainly this is an exercise in thinking and seeing and not so much cranking out images.
Kodak Ektar 100 film, Nikon F-100, 105mm macro f/2.8