Thursday, August 23, 2012

I'm done with digital!

For the last 2 maybe 3 months now, I am (was) struggling with my photography. I hit a so called dry spell. A plateau. A place where I did not see any photographs anymore. Everything looked plain. Everything I did looked plain. Seen it all before. I was producing work that did not excite me anymore. (Except for the work I did in Claresholm. That area just keeps me inspired...)

In my previous post about it (see below) I said I wasn't worrying about it too much. And that I was concentrating on other stuff regarding my 'career'. And so I did for a while (and I still have to tell you the HUGE news but I'm still keeping that buried for a little bit longer).

I was lucky enough to start photographing at the end of the film era. It was 2000. And digital photography was in it's infancy. Heck, digital just sucked back then. In 2005 I got my first DSLR. And since then I've never felt a real connection with photography anymore. Everything was dictated by the limitations of the digital gear.
That was until I got the RB67 about 8 months ago. Together with the smell of the chemicals it got me excited again. It transported me back to my personal happy place. Now the work I produced so far with the camera sucks but that is just the point. It proves that digital has made me a lazy photographer.

Yesterday I made a big decision though. And it felt liberating. Instantly I had a new spring in my step. Instantly I was motivated and excited about making art again. I decided to go full time back to film (except for some commercial work and my aurorae photography of course). A huge leap. I feel like I crawled out of a hole.

The reason WHY, is not easily explained in 2 words.

A lot of people will call me a 'purist' or 'different' and people have even gone so far as calling me an 'elitist' by going back to film. But the thing is. It's NOT about being special or me being the odd one in the group. That has nothing to do with it. The main reason I can give you about the why is because of something called 'inner satisfaction'.

It took me a long time to figure out that making art is not about making money (it's a plus), it's not about the hundreds of like's on sites like Facebook or Flickr, it's not about the +1's or how many people have you in their circles on Google+. It is certainly NOT about being better than anybody else, or to be able to use 'better' or more expensive gear than anybody else. No It's about satisfying your own soul. Something my work only gave me a few times in the past.

Another big thing is this. I don't want to let this darkroom film era die. I believe there will ALWAYS be a place for it. Doing the stuff I do, I feel like I HAVE to do it on film. Photographing the beauty of nature has to be done on something organic. It needs to be an organic process. Something that only YOU can do.
Making a perfect print is technically challenging. And a lot of people have no clue what they are missing and how much FUN that can be. The satisfaction I got in the past from producing a beautiful fiber based silver print is beyond anything I've experienced in the past few years I tell you that.

Even if nobody sees the stuff I will make in the future, I know it will make ME perfectly happy. And that is what making art is about, soul searching. It's complicated sometimes and sometimes it's easy.

When I told a photo-friend about my craziness, she immediately invited me to go out and shoot with the 4x5. We are doing that next weekend and I can not tell you how EXCITED I am about that!

I'll let you know how that outing went. ;)


  1. I would like to go out shooting with your real film and my fake film. I think we want the same things, just going about it differently :)

  2. Good luck with this brave decision Olivier! Sounds like a direction that really suits you and maybe indeed the only one :)

  3. I've read your last couple of posts with great interest. I've been going through much the same as you -- returning to working with film, not shooting much and spending more time reconnecting with my reasons for photography, etc. I'll be interested in where your journey takes you.

  4. Way to go! I commend you for sticking with your convictions. I started my photography in the digital era. I found it exciting to create images; however I found no excitement in the process. I shoot film now and I am much more pleased with the process. I love going into the darkroom and printing. Its a therapeutic process, connecting you to your work. Not saying this can't be accomplished digitally, but like you I find the darkroom and film process to be much more "organic"

    I commend you for making the transition. I have been with film for just shy of a year and can tell you I am never going back. If someone claims your are being a film "elitist," no worries, they are being a digital snob. There is no superior process, just what you prefer as an artist.

  5. Hi Olivier,

    I love to hear film has brought you back to the bliss of photography. I'm totally with you.
    In January, I chose to live from my photography and I have loved every minute of it. However, being a 'professional' photographer - still sounds weird - I came to see how little of my time I actually came to doing photography. Instead, I found myself meticulously finicking with sliders and numbers in photoshop. Now, I guess that, in contrast with your experience, I don't really hate in-box post-processing. Still, increasingly, I get the feeling that this should not be it - that i should be getting a strained finger from snapping pictures, not dragging layers.
    And so I learned myself how to develop and now am taking my antique Yashicamat practically everywhere I go. I love the process, the slowness and perhaps most of all, how little images I actually make. In this age, the photographer, I think, is first and foremost the person who knows when NOT to shoot; the person who honors his hit percentage.
    But I'm rambling on. I'm looking forward to seeing where this decision takes you. And when people call you a snob, just know that what they actually can't stand is that you, unlike them, decline to take the easy and cheap way but choose quality.